Lessons to be learnt from Sonia’s decision

Bandana Rana

For someone who is in politics the most coveted post is definitely that of the Prime Minister. It is difficult to imagine that anyone would forsake that post after reaching the pinnacle through a popular mandate. But Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress Party of India, has stunned her party workers and the world at large by declining to be the Prime Minister for the larger interest of the country and its citizens. “The post of Prime Minister has not been my aim,” she told members of her party. “I was always certain that if ever I found myself in the position I am in today I would follow my inner voice. I humbly decline the post,” she said. Sonia had the mandate of millions of voters and the good will of all her party members. Her members did not leave any stone unturned in trying to persuade her to change her decision. In spite of all emotional pleas, Sonia remained firm in her decision. There may be several speculations as to why she declined to be the PM. But whatever maybe the reason, one cannot deny that political power is an irresistible stimulant that is difficult to give up particularly when you have reached the top and are headed to create history. In light of this the decision that Gandhi has taken must indeed be considered as no ordinary feat.

There maybe some lessons to be learnt from Sonia Gandhi’s move at home. Instead of harbouring feelings of suspicion, mistrust and rigidness and wrangling for power, its high time our politicians also did some serious soul searching and considered what sacrifices they can make for the long-term benefit of the country and its people. One of the sacrifice that perhaps the time demands for initiating dialogue is being flexible about the 18 point agenda which anyway only the elected parliament will have the sole authority to discuss and decide. In order to seek popular consensus the present agenda and road map should include concerns of the commoners. The present urgency, however, is resuming the peace process with the Maoists and preparing the environment for elections. Devolution of power to the younger generation and the most marginalised would indeed be considered a worthy sacrifice and be widely acclaimed.

Another rigid posture the five agitating parties are maintaining is for a collective audience. This may be justifiable on one hand, but on the other does it not reflect the mistrust that they harbour amongst themselves? If they have a common agenda and decision in which they trust they will remain committed and firm, then why did they rebuff the separate invitations? Isn’t this a reflection of their own fear that the individual who meets the Monarch will betray them?

One simply cannot understand why the word “clean image” should raise so much suspicion and debate. Is it wrong to want the prime minister of the country to be of clean image? Is this not the desire of everyone? This is where our politicians should again do some serious soul searching. If they feel that they are clean they should definitely be a claimant for the post of prime minister. If not they should acknowledge the mistakes they have committed and annou-nce corrective measures that they would adopt. But most importantly, they should be able to make sacrifice of giving space to someone who is not tainted whether it is form within their party or outside. “It is my inner voice, my conscience,” Sonia said of her decision to withdraw. She added she was acting in the interest of the nation. We can only hope that like Gandhi our leaders will also listen to their inner voice and conscience to make genuine sacrifices for consolidating democracy in the country.