After saying mum for eight long years, Congress Supremo Sonia Gandhi faced the blunt end of Rajdeep Sardesai’s questions at ‘Swaraj Bhawan’ the ancestral Nehru-Gandhi home in Allahabad. The ‘Interview of the Decade’, despite candy floss questions and poetized scripts seemed dull and thoroughly out of tune. Like all other times, Sonia, being a devoted daughter-in-law played the ‘Gandhi Sacrifice’ card to encash their illustrious past. Since the party has little things to contribute to the nation’s future, they’re bound to refer to their past glories. The problem is not specific to Sonia, but synonymous with the entire Gandhi family that alienates themselves from modern electorate.
As the interview was conducted on the 99th Birth Anniversary of Late Indira Gandhi, the main topic of conversation revolved around Sonia’s bonding with her mother-in-law. Even though she made an attempt to soften her words while talking about India’s first lady Prime Minister, she instinctively assumed an arrogant touch, a problem that is intrinsic to the Congress brand.
Sonia’s answers to even the simplest questions reflects INC’s conventional belief in a ‘maai-baap sarkar’. In the present times, political leaders, like company CEOs are expected to lead (not push) the public towards a bright future. However, Sonia, like other Congress leaders, wants the younger generations to remember her mother-in-law as “A woman who was completely and totally devoted to her people, who was willing to give her everything, including giving up her life for the people of her country“.
The high pedestal where Congress stands, the party fails to understand that the country does not require their ‘sacrifice’, but needs vision and active contribution in contemporary politics. Self-sacrifice is out of question in times of nation building. Congress unknowingly sticks to its traditional ‘Prajapalak image’ wherein they expect the masses to benefit them with absolute loyalty in return for their devotion towards the society.
When questioned about the entire family’s alleged involve in politics, she justified her choices saying,
“Just like in a family of doctors, professor business one or another will choose the path of the father. There is a difference in politics as in politics you are elected and defeated democratically”.
Again, that reflects forced confidence, ongoing dilemma and insecurity of a lady who was destined to accomplish something else but ended up joining the perennial apprenticeship under pressure.
We’ve often seen Gandhis comparing ‘power’ to a cup of poisoned chalice. Neither Indira nor Sonia initially wanted to be in politics, but apparently followed the footsteps of their ancestors to continue this tradition. The dynasty seems to have a deep complex relationship with politics and power, wherein the members are compelled to take a sip from the chalice, despite personal disinterest. While this does explain junior Gandhi’s personal struggle to fit into the political shoes of his father, it doesn’t justify why Sonia would want to continue this tradition further.
As viewers, we expected Sardesai to raise questions of high value like CWG, scams, failure of Congress at democratic front and difference in political ideologies across 3 generations but nearly all the exchanges were Indira-centric, with frequent references to emergency. With this, we can only deduce that Congress has nothing left to retain their position in contemporary society, except for the ‘heavy’ Gandhi-Nehru surname attached to their names. Being the largest political party in India, the leaders need to develop a quick insight to keep their party from falling apart.