India: Sonia Gandhi remains a pre-eminent, troubling politician


Tryst with dynasty

India: Sonia Gandhi remains a pre-eminent, troubling politician

“MADAM”, say sycophants in the ruling Congress party, “has taken politics in India to a new plane.” They gush over Sonia Gandhi, who is marking a record 15 years as party chief. Stern but motherly, she is India’s most powerful figure. Manmohan Singh may be prime minister, but she has more clout: overseeing the ruling coalition and the make-up of cabinets, and influencing policy. And she is preparing her son, Rahul Gandhi, for high office, though his only qualification is his name.

The most popular metaphor to describe her meaning for Indian politics is “glue”. Stickiness matters: India’s only truly national party risks crumbling into several regional ones. Divisions threaten the ruling coalition that it heads. Its largest partner, led by a Bengali, Mamata Banerjee, quit in September over a few modest and much-needed economic reforms. On March 19th the next biggest stormed out. The southern Tamil DMK called for protests against Sri Lanka’s abuse of its fellow ethnic Tamils.  [Read more]



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