I had been slightly despondent at not seeing till yesterday “Sonia Ben” move herself into action. In fact, I had already concluded that perhaps the 2014 parliamentary polls will have to be fought in the absence of her stellar political manoeuvres and not-so well thought out but “attractive” homilies and war cries. My depths of despondency started becoming shallow yesterday when “madam” went on a whirlwind good-will shopping spree to the ideological malls of a group of Muslim clerics, some of whom, after “madam” had left, came out in full public glare of the television crews to say how they had entreated “Sonia ben” to save India from impending disaster and disintegration.

For these self-contained clerics disaster comes only when they are asked to give up being the favourite pawns of vote-bank machinations – an art that the Congress has perfected in the last six odd decades of our independent existence. “Sonia ben”, had simply gone to reiterate the fact that the Congress under her continues to retain mastery of that art and has always striven to further upgrade it in accordance with the winds of change. Some of the clerics, at least given their expressions, seemed to have been fully satisfied and assured.

“Madam”, on the other hand, has assured the nation through her vicereine like utterances that she and her electoral-company are not in the trade of polarisation – perhaps what “madam” meant was that the politics of polarisation is not something foreign to Congress and is almost its second nature and therefore there need be no conscious effort on its part to further it or sustain it.

In fact so ingrained is this trait of polarising Indian politics in the Congress that some of those who have always played a part in effectuating it have risen to become some of the most prominent family courtiers in course of time. Take the case of Salman Khurshid, who has time and again displayed a certain impotency of mind and a robust potency of tongue. In perhaps the only book he has ever written, Khurshid has observed, with a certain flourish, how the Muslims rejoiced when the Sikhs were being massacred in Delhi in 1984, “…there was terrible satisfaction amongst Muslims, who had not completely forgotten the Partition’s unpleasant aftermath. Hindus and Sikhs were alike paying for their ‘sins.’ They were paying for the blood they had drawn in 1947.” Those who have repeatedly expressed such thoughts, are the ones who have always found staunchest protection from “Sonia-ben” and her immediate family, they were after all speaking the “right” language!

    Years back intervening during a crucial debate in Parliament, Jaipal Reddy, who unfortunately has switched sides now, had observed that the problem in India was not with non-resident Indians but with the “resident-non India.” Looking at and listening to “Sonia-ben” in the last few days when she even took the trouble of discussing patriotism-nationalism, I am coming round to the view that India’s “resident non-Indian problem” still persists albeit in a much reduced magnitude. It this non-Indian resident perspective which sinisterly implied yesterday that the majority vote in this country was non-secular! Therefore it is perhaps right that once in a while one continues to turn the searchlight on those aspects of “Sonia-ben” which need to be persistently kept alive in our national mind and psyche.

    An aspect which calls for analysis and a certain sympathetic understanding is the Congressmen and their allies penchant for using the word “fascism”. Any occasion, phenomenon or expression that these types find difficult to comprehend, interpret or even digest they explain away as the manifestations of “fascism”. The deeper raison for this facile and habitual usage of the term by Congressmen and their allies is perhaps because, as pointed out by one of her biographers, “Sonia-ben’s” father Mr. Maino, “a self-made man” who “was born in a poor peasant’s family” was “believed to have been a staunch supporter of Mussolini (a dictator and father of Fascism)” (source: Pranika Sharma, Sonia Gandhi: The Persona, pp.13-14). It is, quite certainly, in deference to the late Maino patriarch, that the present generations of courtiers frequently use the term, without as much as understanding its essential context. Its regular usage, they believe, may propitiate the late Maino’s soul into still believing that his daughter is in control of this exotic land. This explains “fascism” and its usage in the context of Congress and the “family” politics. Of course it is common knowledge as to what the Il Duce variety of patriotism and nationalism did to Italy, to Europe and to the world at large.

    There is another bit which one would do well to highlight and reiterate. It is not the case that these are new discoveries but it is just that they require periodic reiteration. The following may be particularly relevant today when the “war room –leak issue” has again come to the fore. “Madam” has always actively perpetuated and nurtured external linkages – this is a known fact. In fact, it is interesting to know how uncomfortable and incensed Mrs. Gandhi senior had once become with these connections of “Sonia Ben.” It has been said that when Indira saw “Sonia-ben’s” close friend and confidant Ottavio Quattrochi “establishing a palace clique after Rajiv had emerged as her potential successor; she ordered him out of the house and forever banned his entry. This was two years before her assassination.” But Quattrochi was back after Indira’s assassination and the Bofors saga followed, the rest, as they rather clichedly say, is history. For Sonia-ben the concept of “India first” never existed – it has always been rather self first, family always and country – never this one!

    Veteran journalist and political observer H.K.Dua, nominated to the Rajya Sabha by “Sonia-ben’s” government in 2009, long ago once candidly wrote about “madam” and Congressmen. Dua’s observations, made when he had not accepted the Rajya Sabha largesse is worth recalling, it retains a strong contemporary resonance, “the country will have enough sense not to allow itself to become a plaything for Ms. Sonia Gandhi’s uncontrolled ambition, but one can only pity Congressmen and women who are falling at Ms. Sonia Gandhi’s feet entreating her to save their party and help them win an election. It has not occurred to these worthies that the strength of a political party comes from the people and not by kowtowing to 10, Janpath.”

    Ironically “madam” and her acolytes have still not learned the source of true strength in a democracy – this summer may perhaps finally apprise them of it!

(Image Courtesy- Deccan Chroncile through Google Images)

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Anirban Ganguly

Anirban Ganguly

Anirban Ganguly is a scholar of Indian civilisation-history-culture. He is also a director of Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation