Sonia Gandhi: How The Once-Reluctant Politician Held Congress, I.N.D.I.A Bloc Together To Offer


Amidst the mounting frenzy ahead of the Lok Sabha elections results announcement, a calm and composed Sonia Gandhi said “just wait and see”, when asked about the exit polls, predicting NDA’s landslide victory for the third time in a row.

“We have to just wait and see. We are very hopeful that our results are completely the opposite of what the exit poll is saying,” she said.

And she was indeed right.

The I.N.D.I.A bloc, which were projected to win 152-182 seats, ended up winning 232 seats, nearing their claim of winning 295 seats. Congress ended up winning close to 100 seats, which was almost double its 52-seat tally in 2019.

As the counting began, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘400 paar’ claim, seemed like a far-fetched goal, with the party ending up with 240 seats, falling way short of the required 272 majority mark. A far cry from from its previous victory’s tallies— 303 in 2014 and 282 in 2019—the saffron camp will now have to form a coalition government with the NDA allies.

Amongst all this, one tends to overlook the contribution of the key political player —Sonia Gandhi, who silently led the I.N.D.I.A bloc to give a tough fight to the ruling Modi-government. 

The Italian born, though entered politics reluctantly, but has emerged as India’s most powerful leader during Congress rule, and her backstage influence is what worked wonders for the grand old party.

It is often said that Sonia Gandhi’s sharpest weapon has been her silence. The 18th Lok Sabha elections were the perfect example for this as she helped forge the opposition alliance, speaking little and seldom in public, but wielding enormous power.

The 77-year-old, who has now entered Rajasthan’s Rajya Sabha, has been away from the political limelight off late, possibly because of her health.    

Even though Sonia Gandhi did not campaign for the Lok Sabha polls, she made sure to go to Raebareli when her son Rahul Gandhi was nominated from the Gandhi stronghold. While speaking with the people of the Lok Sabha seat she vacated, Sonia Gandhi just made an appeal and said she had come to hand over her son to Raebareli and expects them to take care of him. 

Surprisingly, these simple words worked just right for the Congress as he won from the seat, by over 3.9 lakh votes against the BJP. 

Sonia Gandhi And Her Contribution To Congress’s Growth Trajectory

Although she maintained a low profile, Sonia Gandhi acted as a binding force for the opposition and continued to lead the party’s strategy from both inside and outside the Parliament.

As the chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, she also actively participated in I.N.D.I.A bloc meetings and held the opposition ranks together.

Sonia played a critical role in uniting the opposition against the Modi-led BJP, as she spoke to opposition leaders, including TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and left leaders. 

She also made it a point to attend almost all the I.N.D.I.A bloc meetings, including in Mumbai and Bengaluru.  

The longest serving president of India’s grand old party, Sonia has held the reins of the party for over two decades.

When the Congress found itself in an existential crisis, she stepped in and helped the party pull out of it, with assisstance from veteran Mallikarjun Kharge.

Journey From A Reluctant To Powerful Leader

Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Congress leaders pressed Rajiv Gandhi to occupy the prime minister’s chair in October 1984. Fearful about her family’s safety, Sonia Gandhi begged her husabnd Rajiv not to.

Seven years later, her fears came true, when Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a terror attack during campaigning in Tamil Nadu in May 1991.

After another seven years, the party was in tatters at the centre, and held power in merely four states. It was then that she agreed to pick up the reins of Congress.

In 2004, when the Congress came to power, people assumed that she would occupy the highest office in south block. But, to everyone’s surprise, she chose Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Under her stewardship, the grand old party led the Centre for two terms from 2004 to 2014, returning to power in several states.

UPA-1 and UPA II were fine examples of Sonia Gandhi’s ability to bring non-BJP forces together and she did it again in 2024 by forging alliance with opposition parties and uniting them against the BJP.

About Sonia Gandhi 

Sonia Gandhi, born in Lusiana, Italy, has braved tremendous odds to earn her place in Indian politics, and has devoted over 19 years to the field. Conquering the limitations of language and her foreign origin, she has managed to win the hearts of the Indians.

She met Rajiv Gandhi in England where she was studying language, and later got married to the son of the then Indian prime minister in 1968.

When the party leaders asked her to lead a shaky party, she reluctantly entered public life in 1998, a move that was widely and loudly welcomed in Congress.

In her political debut, she was first elected as an MP from Amethi in 1999, becoming leader of the opposition in the lower house.

As the UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi addressed various issues related to gender, environment, empowerment of the disadvantaged, and right to information.

She has also authored two books on her husband, “Rajiv and Rajiv’s World”, apart from editing two volumes of letters exchanged between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *