Why are Indians in denial about Sonia Gandhi ?

published on June 10, 2011
Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

It is difficult for Indians to accept the fact that the wife of  former prime minister and grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru,Rajiv Gandhi, may not be a good fit for Indian politics. Here, we are not going to look into the question of why the Congress Party has surrounded her with a halo. In a televised program sometime ago the editor of Outlookindia, Vinod Mehta pointed out that it would be suicidal for the Congress Party to abandon Sonia since she led the party to victory in two elections. But with the recent shocking events of June 5, 20ll when a peaceful and nonviolent assembly of protestors at Baba Ramdev’s yoga camp were attacked by the Delhi police, presumably under the orders of a besotted Prime Minister (who has admitted to his culpability in the action) and the Congress President Sonia Gandhi (so the first reports alleged) there may be some rethinking in the Grand Old Party itself as to whether Sonia will continue to be a vote catcher or an albatross round its neck.

The present writer predicts that the Sonia magic will continue to be seriously dented. First reports on June 5, placed the responsibility squarely with the Congress President and with the Prime Minister. And although the Congress went into damage control to protect the image of their vote catcher, the skulduggery  may not work this time around. Too much water has flown under the bridge

For the last few years Dr.Subramanian Swamy, President of the Janata Party, has worked tirelessly to unearth what he claims are facts about Sonia Gandhi. Any interested reader can go to the Janata Party website and acquaint themselves with his account. Dr. Swamy is known for his thoroughness and diligence, apart from his knowledge of the law. Sonia has never challenged his accounts. On the one occasion when a zealous youth congress in the U.S. took some Indians to court for false allegations against her, the case was dismissed /withdrawn, because it was a no show. The star witness herself declined to appear on the stands ! And as of now the whole question of her alleged involvement with corruption is with the Courts.Whether one accepts  Dr. Swamy’s account or not regarding her activities, one thing is clear to anyone viewing the Indian scene with an impartial eye.

Sonia Gandhi originally came from a lower class family without much wealth. She was sent by the good nuns of a convent where she studied as all Italian Catholics of the time in her circumstances did, to Cambridge town in Britain where she studied English in a foreign language  school set up for these purposes. The goal was for her to acquire enough facility in the English language to obtain a job as an au pair girl or a dometic etc., so the good nuns reasoned. It is not certain whether she actually completed the program in the school, which since then has closed down. Nor do we know whether she even has a high school diploma, since her past has been clothed in mystery. Indians for the longest time were fed with the story that she studied at Cambridge University. She did not.

Instead, she met Rajiv Gandhi  who was studying at Cambridge University . She was working as a waitress in Cambridge town where Rajiv liked to spend his free time (so the story goes).  Despite Indira Gandhi’s initial objections, they married. For the next 16 years Sonia stayed in India but did not take Indian citizenship. It was only much later  that she became an Indian citizen, although she has not yet relinquished her Italian citizenship (if reports are true). This is in violation of the rules of Indian citizenship. Her son Rahul is reported to also carry dual citizenship.

A sinking Congress Party tried to project her as the next prime minister . While the Congress has duped the Indian public into thinking that it was a supreme act of sacrifice on Sonia’s part not to accept the nomination for the PM’s post, the real reason is that a loyal and courageous  President Abul Kalam, who was presented with the legal tangle this would entail by Dr.Subramania Swamy,did not accept her nomination. The rest is history. In 1998 she became the President of the Congress Party.

And in the last year, the alleged involvement of Sonia’s Italian family (the sisters), in the Commonwealth scam , the  alleged involvement of Sonia with the 2G scam, all of which are currently being taken up by Swamy at the level of the Courts, and the hints thrown out by senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, all of this has further corroded the Sonia image. Ofcourse, the ghost of Bofors will not go away either.

Then, there are the various ways in which Sonia is alleged to have downgraded Hinduism. The present writer has already commented on how this is not surprising. She is an Italian Catholic and her historical memories and attachments are to the religion of her country of origin. Indian Catholics, on the other hand, are converts whose ancestral memories are that of Hindusthan. Sonia does not have the educational background to make up for her lack of understanding of Hindu India, unlike other Westerners such as Julia Roberts who are well informed and well educated about the country. In fact, the question may well be asked as to why Hindus expect Sonia to be friendly to Hindusthan, or to act differently. It seems to have been the easiest thing for her to do, the attack on a Hindu yoga guru and his followers, given that her familial training would be to despise pagans and such like. Had Sonia set aside her unfortunate monotheistic superstitions, she might not have acted the way she did.

Things are going to get worse, and not necessarily change for the better. The Congress’s attack dog Digvijay Singh continues to spew venom against the Hindu yoga Guru, and make dark comments about the RSS being behind every disaster in the country. But since the RSS and the Sangh Parivar organizations are not banned organizations in the country, their presence at various events is quite normal except when seen through the jaundiced eyes of Digvijay Singh. He too will be coming under increasing scrutiny. Already the reports in Wikipedia are being taken out and polished up for the reader and these do not tell a pretty story about the man.

But the puzzling question is why have Indians been in denial for so long ? The answer is: their embarssment that so unsuitable a person has acquired so much power in the governance of their country, without deserving this high honour. It has been remarked that even Atal Bihari Vajpayee BJP’s leader and then PM, did not put the country’s interests first when he quite easily let Rahul Gandhi off the hook during the 60,000 dollar imbroglio in the U.S.(so it is reported). Most likely he too did not want to tarnish the Gandhi family name.

Indians simply do not want to wash their dirty linen in public. But  do they now have a choice ?

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).

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