In a deeply introspective speech, Congress leader Sonia Gandhi today spoke on a wide range of topics, including her children, her own shortcomings and the role of democracy in India, the first time she has opened up since relinquishing the party president post.
Addressing the India Today Conclave in New Delhi, Gandhi said democracy allows dissent and debate and not monologues in an apparent barb at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She also lamented that nation builders are being slandered, and that there was cynical running down of past achievements referring to the constant criticism by the ruling party of the post Independence achievements of the Congress and its prime ministers.
However, Gandhi noted that the Congress also needs to develop a new style of connecting with people at the organisational level.
She asked, “Was India really a giant black hole before 26th May 2014? Did India march to progress, prosperity & greatness just 4 years ago? Is this claim not an insult to the intelligence of our people?”
When asked for the reasons for the Congress losing one election after another, she said, “We were out-marketed. We have to really develop a new style of connecting with people. We have to look how we project our programs and policies.”
Speaking about her own role in leadership after Congress came to power in 2004, she said that she knew Manmohan Singh would be better a prime minister than her, and that she was aware of her limitations. “Public speaking does not come naturally to me, that is why I was called a reader than a leader,” the Congress leader said.
Gandhi, 71, who was Congress president for 19 years was replaced by her son Rahul last year after internal party elections.