This summer the Congress completed its first five-year stint out of power. Sitting in the Opposition is a proposition not many Congressmen are comfortable with but the recent string of victories in the assembly elections and the fact that it is likely to add two more states—Punjab and Uttaranchal—to its present tally of 11 states has instilled a long-absent sense of confidence in Congressmen. The state-level recuperation has also helped revive the party at the grassroots level and given the stamp of credibility to Sonia Gandhi's leadership.
Indeed, much of the rejuvenation of the Congress is linked to the maturing of Sonia as a politician. Congressmen relate with a measure of pride that their party president has at last come into her own and has got her act together. Gone is the Sonia who was unsure of herself. She now has her own people in the cwc. She has not hesitated in seeking the services of the best talent in the party—Manmohan Singh and Narasimha Rao. She has begun to be actively involved in drawing up Congress strategies and party leaders have begun to credit her with political insight.