Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday rejected any similarity between Indira Gandhi and Narendra Modi’s style of functioning. At a different point in a rare interview she gave to India Today TV channel on Indira Gandhi’s birth centenary, Sonia emphasised that the former prime minister was devoted to secularism. The longest-serving Congress president, however, refused to take questions on the current political scenario, and also did not comment on as and when her son and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will succeed her.
Excerpts from the interview:
ON JOINING POLITICS
Sonia said though politics did not interest her, she eventually took the plunge out of a sense of duty. “I thought on my side it was a bit of coward to not join. At that time there was nothing else on my mind but to uphold the ideals of not just my mother-in-law, my husband and the party,” she said.
ON DYNASTIC POLITICS
Defending dynastic politics. Sonia said: “I see and understand that people do look at it in that way. In a family of doctors, professors or business people, one or the other within the family will chose the path of the father, right?”
She, however, added, “There is a difference because in politics you are elected or defeated democratically.”
ON INDIRA GANDHI
When asked about Indira Gandhi’s greatest contribution (to the country), Sonia said, “It was her loyalty and dedication to the country”. “She had in her deep compassion and empathy for people who were in need of help. She never felt she was a woman amongst all the men, she always felt she was an equal.”
At another point, she said: “Indira represented secularism. She treated all Indians as same, regardless of their background and religion.”
ON COMPARISONS BETWEEN INDIRA AND MODI
Sonia said there was absolutely “no comparison between the two” and that such comparisons did not affect her. “It does not trouble me, I have very clear views, there is no comparison.” “It (comparison) does not trouble me because I do not believe in it at all. I have my own very clear view, there is no comparison… absolutely not,” she said.
ON RAHUL GANDHI
On when Rahul will take up the mantle, she kept up the suspense and said she was not the right person to answer that. “I am not the one to decide on it,” she said.In an acknowledgement that Rahul is being targeted, the Congress president said Indira and Sonia herself had been viciously attacked and that they overcame that.
In reply to a question that there were strong criticisms that the party had no strong leaders to take on Modi, she said: “I don’t agree; don’t forget that when Mrs Gandhi entered politics, became president of the party and later prime minister, she was ridiculed, she was made fun of, she was insulted. There was nothing which she did (that) was (considered) right… from within her own party even more than outside.”
ON CONGRESS’s FUTURE
Sonia said she was sure the Congress will bounce back and get full majority in Parliament in the next elections. “We will come up from 44 seats… In politics one either loses or wins,” the Congress president said.