Sonia Singh, an NDTV journalist and author has recently published her book titled, “Defining India, through their eyes”. Interesting excerpts from the book have come out which give an insight into the thought process and functioning of the Gandhi family. Out of these, the encounters of Nandan Nilekani, the erstwhile chairman of UIDAI, with the Gandhi family reveals interesting perspective into the power dynamics in the Congress party.
After the 2009 elections, when UPA had an unexpected victory with the Congress winning 206 seats, Rahul Gandhi’s excitement had caused him to blatantly over step his boundaries. Perceiving himself as the de facto PM, he had sought to give out the ministerial portfolios to candidates, an honour reserved for the Prime Minister, certainly not a mere MP, which is all Rahul Gandhi had to his name at that time. But it seems as though the Gandhi tag gave him the added privileges, which is why he called Nandan Nilekani on the day the results were declared, and asked him to be the Human Resource Development [HRD] Minister of the country. Apparently, Rahul Gandhi told Nandan Nilekani, “We want somebody from another planet”. Nilekani, after pondering for a bit had agreed to the proposition.
Thereafter, on the day of the swearing in ceremony, when Nilekani was in the midst of frantically arranging transportation to Delhi, Rahul Gandhi had called him again and had breezily stated, “Sorry, it’s not on”. Obviously, Sonia Gandhi, the matriarch of the Gandhi clan, had overruled Rahul Gandhi’s decision; but the question here arises that in what capacity did Rahul Gandhi deem himself fit to be giving out Ministry posts?
This interaction just reinforces how the Nehru-Gandhi family has been running the party as their family business, with the dynasts getting undue power and advantage over the elected leaders. Rahul Gandhi’s actions implied that he no longer needed Dr. Manmohan Singh to keep his seat warm and was ready to take the party’s reigns as the rightful heir, as had been played out by the party over the next 5 years. Even before this, Manmohan Singh had been rendered to the position of a rubber stamp, with the Gandhi family leading from behind the scenes. The fact that Sonia Gandhi couldn’t officially become the Prime Minister of the country didn’t stop her from exercising power, treating Manmohan Singh as a rubber stamp instead of the elected leader that he was. Such was the level of her interference, that she had established the National Advisory Council (NAC), appointing herself as the chairman and filling it with subservient family loyalists. The council had emerged as an alternative to the Prime Minister’s cabinet and was thus considered unconstitutional. The NAC had interfered in the drafting of several key several key bills including, the Right to Information Act, Right to Education Act, Employee Guarantee Act, and the Food Security Bill.
During the unfolding of the Aadhaar plan, Nandan Nilekani also had the opportunity to interact with Sonia Gandhi. While convincing the then Congress President of the numerous advantages of the Aadhaar implementation, her questions indicated how the advantages of the scheme was the least of her concerns and politicizing the issue was a more pressing matter. Nilekani recounts, “One day, Mrs Gandhi told me she was concerned I was using BJP colours on the Aadhaar letter which was being sent to people, to which I said it was using the national flag colours. I had to get samples to show her that they were indeed the national flag colours.”
It is quite absurd that on seeing the colour saffron, her first though automatically went to the opposition party’s colours instead of associating it with the Indian flag, like most Indians do.
If the excerpts are any indication, Sonia Singh’s book is no doubt filled with other interesting insights into the Gandhi family, illustrating how the absolute hold of the family over the Congress has led to its ruin. What is ironic is that the entire country, including the Congress leaders have realized this and yet, the Gandhis continue to hold the party within their firm grip, the recent appointment of Sonia Gandhi as the CPP being a clear indication to this.