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THE real highlight of a week of rollercoaster developments in politics was the unmaking of the Sonia myth. In just a few days, the lady jettisoned the prim and proper image she had so carefully cultivated. Gone is the studied nonchalance, the calibrated strategy to capture power. The new Sonia drives in fifth gear, taking blind corners and splashing through the fetid puddles of Third Front politics.This became first evident on the eve of the crucial confidence vote when Sonia threw caution to the winds and revelled in getting her hands slimy with horse trading. Not content at leaving the dirty work to party flunkeys, she made late night calls and held secret parleys to wean away MPs. What followed after the fall of the bjp regime was even more astounding. Abandoning her earlier policy of getting the Congress back in the saddle on its own steam in a mid-term poll, Sonia seemed eager to head a minority government with the outside support of a motley group of Opposition parties. Without even tying up the numbers, she went and told the President that her party was ready to form the government and blustered to correspondents about the support of 272 MPs and more on their way.
What's particularly mystifying is that Sonia is perhaps the only contemporary politician who seemed to appreciate the value of occupying Opposition space. She has so far been acutely aware of the handicap of her foreign birth and keen to acquire political legitimacy through popular mandate. By embroiling herself in a messy political coup the enigmatic Gandhi widow has once again confounded Sonia watchers who were just about sizing her up.