Feb 20, 2024
Feb 20, 2024
She has indeed adopted this country as her own by a matter of choice. Tell me how many Indians would prefer to live in India if they have a choice of settling abroad? Many of us would prefer USA or any European country and zip off at the very first chance. For a woman who has left her country of birth and origin, of near and dear ones, and have come to settle down here in India, was accepted wholeheartedly, thirty four years ago, when as a young 'Bahu' she had yet to prove her mettle. And now after all these many years and a bunch load of personal and individual sacrifices for the betterment of the family and the country, is it not 'hitting below the belt' to rake up her foreign origin issue? It is a matter of shame that even her own people did not spare her on this issue. It must have been a matter of deep personal pain and anguish for her and her family.
Sonia, if I may say, was pushed into politics. It was never her choice. Congress party was disintegrating and loosing its mass base and it could not conjure up a single leader who could lead the party or hold it together. For seven long years she kept away and did not participate in active politics. But it is besides the point that for every Congressmen 10 Janpath was and is a temple and Madame the goddess who presides. They begged and cajoled her with folded hands to take charge. But she, did not respond until the need of the hour was such, that without her intervention the Congress party would have disintegrated. She had to save the Congress or else the heritage that her predecessors had built with great personal sacrifices would have decayed and crumbled. She reverted the process, and on her part it was matter of supreme sacrifice, for the sake of the party, she put aside her personal likes and dislikes and decided to head the Congress.
She is no power hungry woman waiting to grab power. A lady who in her own words 'fought like a tigress- for him, for us and our children, for the life we have made together... and above all, for our freedom'- to stop Rajeev Gandhi from joining politics could not have jumped at the sight of power? Self sacrifice has always been a part of Sonia's psyche. This personal trait of her character is clearly indicated, by her agreeing to Rajeev's joining politics for the sake of his mother and the country. But before finally giving her consent, for her it was 'long year...of complete helplessness...hoping for a miracle... solution... acceptable and fair to all of us. Finally... I could no longer bear to watch Rajeev being torn apart... If he felt that he ought to offer his help to his mother than I would bow to those forces..., and I would go with him wherever they took him.' Although at the same time, She was '..... angry and resentful towards a system which .... demanded him as a sacrificial lamb. It would crush him and destroy him of that I was absolutely certain.' On the death of Mrs. Indira Gandhi when Rajeev Gandhi was asked to head the party she was shattered and shipwrecked and this is what she felt and says, of then 'As he spoke to me it sank that they had asked him to become the party leader. He was going to be sworn in as the prime minister. I begged him not to let them do this. I pleaded with him, with others around him, too. He would be killed as well. He held my hands, hugged me, and tried to soothe my desperation. He had no choice, he said; He would be killed any way.' For a wife to hear from her husband about his own impending death which ultimately prophetically did come true must have been absolutely disastrous and tragic. And when Rajeev died, wasn't she offered the same posts? They all wanted her at the helm of affairs of the Congress party, which she of course declined and remained in mourning for seven long years. It could be nothing except a deep sense of duty that might have made her to come to politics, which is nothing but upholding the family tradition.
The trio Pawar, P.A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar seem to be having a very short memory. Weren't they ones who were at her doorsteps, begging her to take charge of the party? Didn't they remember her foreign origins then? They praise her campaigning skills, her commanding and leadership abilities, but becoming a Prime minister? No! Madame, because you are of a foreign origin?! Well! You see they thought that Madame with her basically shy and introvert nature would never agree to become the Prime Minister, and if the Congress survives and grow under her than certainly who else other than Mr. Pawar or in a matter of time, perhaps Mr. Sangma, would be asked to become the Prime Minister of the country. But they should have realized that when they could not even hold the Congress party together, how could they hold a country together without the consolidated support of her from within the party?
Mr Pawar has eyed the Prime Minister's post for quite sometime now, but it has eluded him for so long. He had always been a power hungry person; it has been his dream to become the Prime Minister of the country. He may be a popular leader in Maharashtra, but the rest of the country, his popularity is certainly doubtful. He is a person with powerful connections in Maharshtra, with the industrialists, the sugar lobby and even the Mafia backing him. In the late eighties when I was in Mumbai, during the Assembly elections there, Congress ticket was given to Mr. Hiteshwar Thakur from the Vasai constituency. And who is he? Brother of Bhai Thakur an underground Don, landing Agent of Dawood Ibrahim and also one of the accused in the serial bomb blast case of Mumbai. They operated in the Vasai - Virar area both satellite towns of Mumbai that came under the district of Thane then. Both the brothers had the area completely terrorized and totally under their grip. Their occupation was an open secret and with the political connection they had, it was all hell let loose nobody could dare say a word against them. Certainly Mr. Pawar cannot plead innocence on this issue, when even a novice and a common citizen like me, knew who they were?
But I always wondered what came over Mr Purno Sangma? He has always been such a down to earth and a rational person with an impeccable track record, endowed with a spontaneous carefree laughter. He had risen in the ranks of the party by the sheer dint of his hard work and forthrightness. With in the Congress, he had a brighter future and certainly a man with his stature and caliber, would have played a more diversified role in the future of our country and as a matter of fact even headed the country at some point of time. Reaching the heights of success, he has done North-east proud, specifically Meghalaya. But this act of his was nothing but self-defeating. He limited his own boundaries. Although there does not seem to be any chance for him to go back to the Congress the best he could do is stop raking Sonia's foreign origin issue and start having a vision for Meghalaya, planning that he is, to come back to state politics.
In politics issues are created out of non-issues. Election time is the best time for harvesting them, nurturing them and then taking it to the people to convince them that these are the reasons why such and such party or candidate cannot be voted to power. So the issue of the foreign origin is raked up once again thinking that it may have a lot of takers. Well, the issue that certainly could have been taken up was - Why in a Democratic country like India, do we still thrive on Autocracy? Why cannot the Congress look beyond the Dynastic rule of the Nehru-Gandhi family? Why are they so heavily dependent on them? Blind allegiance is never innovative surely, but does the Congress have any substitute. And yet she has proved her mettle by bringing back Congress to power in thirteen of the States. And who is Jaya Jetley or Jayalalitha to judge or decide for the people? Let the people give their verdict in the next elections. And instead of raking up stupid issues for once, these politicians should start tackling the problems that are really bogging down the people - issues of roti, kapada aur makan, corruption, peace and justice, unemployment, proper educational system and of a stable and a steady government and above all problems of insurgency and militancy. No instead they are busy with personal and petty bickering, raking up of baseless issues, and ludicrous and vacuous rhetoric.
Sonia's foreign origin is not an issue at all, and an average Indian should understand it better than the intellectuals. In the tradition of our country 'Bahu' or the daughter-in-law relinquishes all her past family ties, names and titles and merges into her husband's life and world. She becomes a part of his family and takes up his titles and names. Doesn't this Hindu brigade know their own scriptures, traditions and culture? After her marriage to Rajeev Gandhi she is as much an Indian as any one of us who claims to be Indian, but have more of the western culture, the MTV'S, the Star T.V.'s, the Bold and Beautiful and Santa Barbara's in us than perhaps any of the traditional and the cultural heritage of our country. She knows more of India than many an Indian. She has been to each and every corner of this country, seen the best and the worst, the most backward areas and those thriving on modernism. She has toured the length and the breath of this country. She was always by the side of Rajiv Gandhi in his entire political career while also assisting him in his political campaigns. And like what Mr. Vir Sanghvi had referred in his article that- 'if an East-African born Goan, Keith Vaz, can become a member of the Tony Blair Ministry and Lord Swaraj Paul an Indian, a member of the house of Lords and a special envoy to the Blair government, than why not Sonia here? As our system is based on the British System and this is a suitable pattern for us to follow.'
Of both the Bahus she was the one who was close to Mrs Gandhi, who confided in her often. Mrs Indira Gandhi trusted Sonia with her feelings and after her death Sonia found amongst her papers a letter in which she wrote: 'I am writing to you Sonia, because you seems to be interested in the family and also because I see some glimpses of myself in you and many of my husband's glimpses in my son who is your husband.'
We need to grow and have a wider perspective. And like, a dear friend of mine, a lawyer had said, 'that we should be involved in the process of evolution and not in the process of involution." Likewise we should expand our horizons and be more receptive of the people such as Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, who even after being of foreign origin has upheld our cultural and social traditions and brought a certain amount of her personal dignity into it. She has bloomed as a woman with an Indian ethos and essence of a perfect and an ideal picture of a wife, daughter-in-law, a mother and now a widow. She has lived her life to perfection - as inscribed in our ancient traditions. We should be kind, sensitive and more receptive of her - as a human being, and not rake up frivolous, and baseless issues, which speaks more of our character rather then hers because as far as nationality goes, Constitutionally, Legally and Socially she is an Indian beyond any doubts. And emotionally too! As she says in her own words - 'India has accepted me 31 years ago .... This country has been with me in every moment of my life, I was married here, became a mother and turned a widow in the presence of all of you. The greatest daughter of this country has breathed her last in my arms, every drop of my blood says this is my country, this is.... my country!'
Imagine the hurt and pain that she must have gone through, husband her strongest supporter gone, mother-in-law no more, no elderly male folk to give her the courage or the strength, with all her kith and kin far away, alone in the midst of 1000 million people- who after 34 years of life full of sacrifices and tragedies are calling her a foreigner - in the land of her husband, which she chose to live and had once described '.... I had a vague idea that India existed somewhere in the world, with its snakes elephants and jungles, God! Was that where India was? - so far away, at the other end of the world.' Yes, it was far away, very far away, at the other end of the world.... but it could not have been farther, than it was when, the issue of her foreign origin was raked up by her own coterie, by her own trusted aides after 34 long years of tumultuous ups and downs as a wife, daughter-in-law, a mother, and ultimately a widow!
More by : Ooma Tiwari Tariang