The turn-of-the-year scenario is most interesting. Traditional anti-Congressmen like Mulayam Yadav and Laloo Yadav see in the party the only real hope to keep the 'communalist' bjp out of power though more than political posturing, it could be the fear of investigators and courts closing in on Laloo and the imminent possibility of losing crucial minority support for Mulayam in UP. Even the Left Front government in West Bengal sees in Sonia the only hope for the country, minus of course the Congress economic agenda. Jayalalitha with her strong southern alliance has shown absolute willingness to pull down her allies in the government. But so far Sonia has refused to bite.
The Congress president has been treading a hitherto unknown path, certainly a very independent one. Her total lack of access to the media and to innumerable Congressmen has added to the mystique. Every move is hotly speculated, without any first-hand knowledge. But the contours, as they are now appearing, show her in good light. Sonia has spurned any regional alliances, except ones she will have control over. Her moves so far have reminded observers of her mother-in-law, where every tactic was judged to a last point particularly when Indira Gandhi was consolidating her position. So even while political parties were squabbling inside Parliament on women's reservations, Sonia has quietly changed the party constitution, reserved 33 per cent seats for women in the aicc, another 20 per cent for obcs, Dalits and minorities in the process questioning parties which were seeking reservations through legislation and not on their voluntary accord.