The truth is at once a beautiful and terrible thing. Therefore, attempts are often made to hide it or bury the truth six feet under. But truth has a tendency of clawing its way back to the surface inevitably, more often than not. In the world of politics, it is primarily the job of the mainstream media to prevent the truth from finding its way out. Unlike the popular belief that mainstream media supposedly reports the facts on the matter, its primary responsibility is to hide the truth on all contentious issues and help build an image that’s convenient for its political masters. Such has been the case ‘interim Congress president’ Sonia Gandhi.
Over time, the mainstream media has created an image of Sonia Gandhi that is starkly in contrast with reality itself. All sorts of false achievements were attributed to her and she was propped up as something she was not. Today, we will try to bust some of the myths that have been invented to augment the aura of Antonia Maino.
1. Sonia Gandhi held together a disintegrating Congress
This was, of course, a myth and the most popular one in fact. In fact, it was after Sonia Gandhi took over the reigns of the Congress party that Sharad Pawar, the stalwart of Maharashtra, quit the Congress for good. In 1999, according to Sharad Pawar himself, after the collapse of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, he became aware through the media that Sonia Gandhi was going to lay the claim to form the government. But he believed that it was he or Manmohan Singh who were the rightful claimants to the post. And therefore, he decided to quit the party.
Thus, it was the first instance when Sonia Gandhi failed to prevent the Congress party from disintegrating further. Going forward, she was never able to recover lost territory. In 2004 and 2009, she was able to form the government in a coalition with other parties but the UPA had much lesser seats in the government than any government in the heydays of its prowess. Inevitably, however, in 2014, the Congress party collapsed to a mere 44 seats, largely due to the barrage of corruption Sonia Gandhi had presided over as the invisible hand behind the government.
2. Sonia Gandhi defeated Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Vajpayee’s defeat in 2004 came as a shock to the entire country. He was largely expected to win and be reelected as the Prime Minister of the country but it did not happen. As it so happens, it was more of a defeat for the BJP than it was a victory for the Congress party. The BJP collapsed spectacularly due to a multitude of factors and it would be a huge mistake to attribute the victory to Sonia Gandhi alone. The Congress party won only seven seats more than the BJP. The truth of the matter is that the nature of the polity was such that it was much easier for Sonia Gandhi to stitch up an alliance than it was for the BJP and the allies of the BJP had suffered equally as them.
Thus, the Congress party was able to form the government with help from others. Similarly, in 2009, the BJP put up almost a no-show and due to the work Manmohan Singh managed to push through as the Prime Minister, the Congress party managed to increase its tally vastly and ensure that the ‘accidental PM’ could continue for a second term.
3. Sonia Gandhi survived assassinations in the family
While there are numerous conspiracy theories about the assassinations themselves, with Sonia Gandhi in the thick of them, the assassinations brought along with them a great deal of political mileage, something that Antonia Maino managed to exhaust completely. After Indira Gandhi’s assassination, Rajiv Gandhi rode the wave of sympathy to win 426 seats in the General Elections of 1984. Thus, as traumatizing as the death of a loved one can be, it does tend to boost one’s electoral prospects. Therefore, while evaluating Sonia Gandhi’s political career, one should not consider the assassinations as an obstacle. It must have been devastating for her personally, yes, and we do sympathize with her for the untimely death of her family but when it comes to politics, the sympathy she received did help her cement her position.
4. Sonia Gandhi is a master strategist
The strategic abilities of Sonia Gandhi is, perhaps, the most overrated of the virtues attributed to her. It becomes much easier to strategize when you are the inheritor of a legacy as glorified as that of the Nehru-Gandhi family. The truth is, when she became the leader of the Congress party, the Nehru-Gandhi family still enjoyed a lot of popularity among the masses. The BJP might have been on the ascendancy but it was the Parivar around which the politics of the country revolved around. Thus, it is much easier to strategize when you are the focal point of national politics.
Furthermore, the vindictive politics Antonia Maino indulged in during her rule and the regime of corruption that flourished under her came to bite her in the end. It was her policies and her leadership that drove the Congress party to the ground and now, the party is in a situation where it doesn’t appear it will be competitive at the national level anytime soon. And that will be Sonia Gandhi’s everlasting legacy, that she destroyed the political prospects of the Congress party because she wanted her incompetent son to succeed her despite lacking all obvious skills.
One way she tends to “appear” to be a “master strategist” is because she knows, perhaps, how to control the mass media that is more than willing to build a personality cult around Sonia Gandhi and now, her son Rahul Gandhi, both of whom could not stop Congress from sinking.
When a real strategist came to the fore, he chewed the Congress party with Sonia Gandhi at the helm of affairs.
5. Sonia Gandhi carries herself gracefully in public
Well, whenever one hears the graceful and Sonia Gandhi in the same sentence, one is reminded of her ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ jibe at Narendra Modi. She is elegant by her appearance but her mannerisms do not exude gracefulness in the least bit. The thing that sticks out the most about her is, of course, the Hindi she speaks with a mighty heavy accent. One would have thought that after spent such a long time in India, she would have learnt speaking Hindi the right way but unfortunately, she still cannot and it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Nevertheless, Antonia Maino can afford to be feign gracefulness in public because there are others doing the dirty work for her. One of the most prominent among them being Mani Shankar Aiyar who cannot stop with his incendiary remarks against the Prime Minister. He went so far as to ask for Pakistan’s help in removing Narendra Modi from power and used casteist remarks against him. Thus, when you surround yourself with antique pieces of clowns such as Aiyar, you can afford to be graceful in the public eye.
The Truth About Sonia Gandhi
The truth of the matter is that Antonia Maino is a spiteful woman who never forgets a slight. She is consumed by her love for her son, and one cannot really fault her for that, but politics requires one to separate one’s emotions from the greater objectives. It also shows that she never really cared about the electoral prospects of the Congress party. All she cared about is her family. In that respect, she is truly the Cersei Lannister of India.
Antonia Maino is power-hungry and will stop at no ends to secure it. There is no boundary she will not invade in pursuit of power. She has ruled over the Congress party as her personal fiefdom and has gone out of her way to ensure that no one crosses her. She presided over the Congress party at a time when the biggest organized plunder of the country was underway. And she still managed to get away with it, largely because she had the media and ‘civil society’ in her pockets. In the end, she was destined to fall and fall she did.
Sonia Gandhi does have a few virtues and we can afford to admit it. It’s really touching the way she dotes on her children. And the manner in which she managed to retain her control over the party. But we should not exaggerate her virtues beyond recognition. And truth does deserve to be told.