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This refers to “Opportunistic? Or plain ingenious?” by Aditi Phadnis (December 16). As its long-time president, Sonia Gandhi alone is responsible for the survival, rise and downfall of the Congress party. She was a reluctant entrant to Indian politics but proved to be a quick learner. After initial setbacks she brought her party back to power in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections and repeated the success in 2009. However, she made three judgmental errors which led to her party’s eclipse in 2014. She rewarded personal loyalty instead of competence in putting people in key positions including prime minister, ministers holding strategic portfolios and bureaucrats.
This resulted in the inefficiency of administration. Besides, unlike perceptive leaders who select their trusted team and let them act on their own to deliver assigned results, she and her son kept interfering with the working of her government every now and then, giving little scope to the prime minister to utilise his vast expertise. The National Advisory Council created by her as a super cabinet of her own functioned less as a facilitator and more as a speed breaker to the prime minister’s expertise in economy management. Thirdly, her neglect of rampart corruption involving her ministers, alliance partners and government servants downwards tarnished her party’s image beyond repairs. Scams in 2G spectrum and coal mine allotment, bribery in execution of the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme and leakages in the public distribution system undid all the good steps her government had taken. Clinging to power at any cost seemed to be her policy. Now she has decided to pass the baton to her son at a time of unprecedented crisis in the party’s history, even when he has so far demonstrated least capacity to face the challenge, losing state Assembly elections one after another. Whether this move also is an error of judgement will be known soon.
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