For the first time since she became Congress president over a decade ago,Sonia Gandhi admitted on Tuesday that when the forces of intolerance were gaining momentum (in the late 1990s) and the Congress was being written off,she had doubts about whether her party would be able to overcome the challenge. She was speaking at the book launch of Madhavrao Scindia: A Life,a biography of the late Congress leader by journalists Vir Sanghvi and Namita Bhandare. She also spoke of Scindia in glowing terms at the function.
We may have seemed confident in public,but I must confess that there were times when we wondered whether the tasks we had undertaken were achievable, she said. These were not easy days. Many had written off the Congress altogether. Our dream of a secular India seemed to be in danger of getting destroyed, said Sonia in an apparent reference to the period after the 1998 and 1999 elections.
She added that it was during this time that Scindia stood up in support of her. She recalled how during her first term in 1999,when she was the Leader of Opposition,he had shared a great deal of the burden.
His response to queries was spontaneous and from the heart. One never had to wonder what his real agenda was or speculate about his motives, said the Congress president,adding that Scindia was a genuine,sincere,straightforward and determined leader who led his political life on the basis of values and principles.
Sonia said it was her lasting regret that on May 13,2004,when the Congress formed a secular government,he was not there. I wish he was there to witness the triumph of the ideas he had lived with, she said.
Sonia released the book in the presence of Madhavrao Scindias wife Madhavi Raje,son Jyotiraditya Scindia and a host of dignitaries including Priyanka Vadra,Robert Vadra,P Chidambaram and Sitaram Yechury.