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'Sonia Could Face 1977-Like Situation'
Once considered Indira Gandhi's right-hand man, R.K. Dhawan, now a Rajya Sabha MP, is marginalised in the Congress party. The Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist is today apprehensive that like Indira and Rajiv faced betrayal from their own partymen, Sonia Gandhi too could be undermined by those posing as her well-wishers. Speaking to Outlook Saptahik's Vinod Agnihotri, Dhawan says Sonia must remain cautious of those close to her. Excerpts:
Unlike earlier times, why is the Congress party weak today?
The strength of any party declines when some leaders are ready to stoop to any level for their own self-interests and then attack the very same leadership that encourages them. These people try to establish their own cult in the party. Such persons are responsible for the decay in the Congress.
Who has caused the greatest harm to the Congress?
The people close to Indiraji and Rajivji were the ones who betrayed them. In 1977, when Indiraji lost the elections, the leaders close to her were the first to testify before the Shah Commission. H.R. Gokhale, a very close associate of Indiraji, was the first one to testify. So did Siddharth Shankar Ray. It is recorded history how Rajivji was badly treated by the very same people whom he trusted. Rajivji's close associates, friends and relatives always thought they were more intelligent than him. The people given proximity to him started thinking they were more competent and clever than him. This was how various conspiracies were hatched against Rajivji. Now everyone knows what happened. His own confidants betrayed Rajivji the most.
Sonia Gandhi has also spoken of betrayal by Natwar Singh...
I cannot comment on what happened between Natwar Singh and Sonia. But there are strange things happening now in the party. The Congress is not in a majority at the centre and whenever it has depended on allies, this kind of situation arises. Though Soniaji is trying her best to bring the Congress back to its earlier position, there are a few people who want to create the same kind of situation that Rajivji faced. It is really sad to say that some leaders are working only with this mentality, and I am afraid the situation that was in 1977 will arise once again for Soniaji. Then all the efforts she has made will be wasted. That's why she should remain cautious.
How real is Natwar Singh's threat to expose Sonia Gandhi?
It's not right for Natwar to say such things. To be a loyalist, one has to be loyal all the time—not just in happy times.
You have seen Rahul Gandhi as a child. When will he be ready to take up any major responsibility?
Rahulji—as any other Nehru-Gandhi family member—decides on his own or the family takes a joint decision.
How does an old-time loyalist like you feel when you are marginalised by the party?
If you have loyalty towards someone, then you should not expect something in return. I've been loyal to the party and the Nehru-Gandhi family for the past 44 years. I am with them now and shall remain so. Whatever utility I have for the party or the family is for Soniaji to decide and whatever she thinks right, she will do. Loyalists shouldn't carry any kind of grievance.