Sonia Gandhi, addressing Congress parliamentarians for the first time since son Rahul Gandhi took over as party president in December, said today, “He is my boss too – let there be no doubt about that.” But while stressing that her son is in charge, Sonia Gandhi also made it clear that she would take the lead in rallying other parties against the ruling BJP ahead of national elections that follow a series of state polls this year.
As chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party, she said, “I will work with the Congress President and other colleagues in discussions with like-minded, political parties to ensure that in the next election, the BJP is defeated and India is restored to a democratic, inclusive, secular, tolerant and economically progressive path.” She urged the party to be ready for the national elections, which, she said, are due in slightly over a year and “might well be called earlier as they were in 2004”. Sonia Gandhi, 71, was Congress president for 19 years before she handed over the party’s reins to Rahul Gandhi.
Describing the Congress’s decimation in the 2014 as an aberration, she said: “Increasingly, the people of our country, people belonging to all sections of our society-are getting disillusioned with the present regime. It is for us to channel this discontent into support.” The Gujarat polls and the Rajasthan by-election, she said, showed winds of change. Karnataka, where elections are due this year, would “underline the resurgence of the Congress”, she added.
Sonia Gandhi said in four years of the BJP-led government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, parliament, the judiciary, media and civil society had come under systematic assault. “Investigative agencies have been let loose against political opponents. An all-pervasive atmosphere of fear and intimidation has been created. Liberal, secular and democratic traditions are being wantonly damaged. The pluralistic nature of our society-which has been its strength for centuries-is being eroded.”