There used to be just one kind of Congressman. The one whothrew himself at Sonia Gandhi's feet. Now there are two kinds. The ones who criticise herand the ones who defend her.
Jairam Ramesh was a critic. He told a journal that so longas Sonia remained leader, the Congress couldn't come to power in 50 years. Accused offlouting discipline, he apologised. He didn't deny uttering the words. He said he wasquoted out of context. Nobody asked him what kind of context could have made the remarkpalatable.
Unlike Ramesh, Vasant Sathe defended Sonia Gandhi. He wrotein the Congress party's official journal, Congress Sandesh. He was full of praise for hisleader.
He praised her insight and modesty. He wrote that Soniaknew that she had neither talent nor experience. "Soniaji continues to be fully awareof her limitations, both inherent and circumstantial. Her nature was a great handicap withthe media and the intellectual elite. Language was one of the hurdles." Nevertheless,she impressed her critics. The very fact that she could make effective interventions inParliament "surprised quite a few".
One gathered from his article that the only reason shebecame leader was she belonged to the dynasty. He said there were "more brilliant andseasoned leaders in the Congress", but they lacked the popular appeal of theNehru-Gandhi family. However, Sonia's appeal among Congressmen could not attract votes.She herself knew she lacked the charisma to "get the masses of India to vote theCongress to power".
Sathe offered, therefore, a unique plan to revive theCongress. He advised Congressmen to "restructure the party from the grassrootslevel". He appealed to those who worked as "young activists" under IndiraGandhi and Rajiv Gandhi to come forward. He made clear of course that these youngsterswould all have to be "under 70 years". They also had to enjoy "goodwillwith the masses".
He suggested an original programme. He advised theseactivists to enrol members into the party. After that, they could form booth committees.Doubtless, this novel programme could help the Congress sweep back to power before 50years.
Sathe's defence of Sonia effectively silenced her critics.As one of them said: "Why should we criticise Sonia Gandhi when Vasant Sathe isdefending her?"
Is of little import,
Far, far worse
Is Sathe's support!