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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
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The Power Of No

She called it her inner voice. But it sounded like an earsplitting victory cry to the Opposition. Sonia Gandhi introduces a moral language that is foreign to many in Indian politics. Can it work? Update

The Power Of No
T. Narayan
The Power Of No
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
High melodrama and primetime theatrics marked Sonia Gandhi's repudiation of the office of prime minister last week. On the one hand, Congressmen beat their breasts in full view of TV cameras; on the other, "pasta" jokes clogged SMS channels. Indifferent to both, Sonia, like Julius Caesar hundreds of centuries before her, was repeatedly offered the crown and firmly turned it down each time. By opting for the role of Rajmata rather than Rani Ma, she not only enhanced her stature but punctured the Sangh parivar's campaign against her even before it got off the ground. But by emerging as a parallel power centre, she has also created a dichotomy between the office of the PM and that of Congress president. It is now clear that Manmohan Singh, the incumbent prime minister, will have to liaise with 10, Janpath over every important decision and therein could lie the seeds of future discord.

Sonia gave no tangible reasons for stepping aside other than an "inner voice" which urged her to reject the office of prime minister. In the ensuing sycophancy that was unleashed, no one asked her to explain why; Congressmen focused instead on elevating her to sainthood (she was variously referred to as Gautama Budhha, tapasvini, tyagi and Mahatma Gandhi) and accusing BJP MP Sushma Swaraj, who'd challenged her eligibility to be PM, of being a "blot on the face of Indian womanhood". Throwing parliamentary propriety to the winds, they insisted on referring to Sonia as "Madam Prime Minister". Emotions ran so high during the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting at Parliament's Central Hall last Tuesday that Sonia had to threaten to resign as Congress president before the MPs agreed to back down and accept her decision. The script read pretty much like that of her 1999 resignation drama, when she quit as Congress president after Sharad Pawar & Co questioned her right to the top...
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