Sonia keeps Indira legacy alive in election
It is a resemblance that Sonia uses to her advantage on the campaign trail ahead of the election, frequently referring to the contributions and sacrifices made by the Nehru-Gandhi family, particularly Indira and husband Rajiv, who were both assassinated.
Sonia, dragged into politics after a stunning defeat for the Congress party in 1998, is clearly the party’s star campaigner, speaking at three or four rallies everyday, criss-crossing the country in a chopper which holds as much fascination for people in rural India as a glimpse of the nation’s “bahu” or daughter-in-law, as Sonia is called.
She definitely packs in the crowds: men and women, many dangling babies from their hips, and dressed in their finest, break into loud applause when she rises to speak.
She speaks clearly and simply, with little of the rhetoric, vitriol or poetry that mark speeches of older, more seasoned campaigners. Her voice rises as she criticises the BJP for its communalist practices, and as she invites the crowd to cry “Jai Hind” (Long Live India) at the end of a speech.
Once called the “Sphinx” for her inscrutable ways, Sonia waded into the crowd at the end of a recent speech in Sakoli in Maharashtra state, waving and smiling at the blessings and pleas shouted at her by the enthusiastic crowd.
Son Rahul, 38, who has also hit the campaign trail with fervour, is being hailed as the next prime minister while daughter Priyanka, who was earlier touted as heir, has said she will not say “never” to politics.
Sonia will hold on to power for perhaps another 10 years before passing on the baton to Rahul, analysts say. And while there are other young stars on the horizon, can someone without the Nehru-Gandhi link shine as brightly?