Congress president Sonia Gandhi has promised to write a book detailing the tense moments in 2004 when she stepped aside in favour of Manmohan Singh for the prime ministership after the UPA emerged victorious in general elections.
Stating that she is often asked why she turned down the top job, Ms. Gandhi told a visiting U.S. dignitary in New Delhi in 2006 that “I am often asked about this, but tell people that I will write a book some day with the whole story,” according to a secret U.S. cable released by WikiLeaks.
The 2006 cable details Ms. Gandhi’s meeting with Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California and wife of Governor Arnold Shwarznegger. It is titled ‘A Garrulous Sonia Gandhi Opens Up to Maria Shriver’
Reporting the meeting, the cable says about Ms. Gandhi: “She would only say that she ‘felt better’ that someone else became PM and ‘did not regret’ her decision.”
“Shriver congratulated Mrs. Gandhi for her resoluteness and described her as ‘courageous.’”
The cable adds: “She (Gandhi) elaborated, at Karan Singh’s insistence, saying that she was under lots of pressure, as the ‘party workers’ were ‘very upset.’ They ’could not understand’ why she, as party President, was not taking up the post, since they had voted for her and won a majority.”
Describing what appeared to be a very cordial meeting, the cable says Ms. Gandhi opened up and “revealed a rare glimpse of herself.
“Usually withdrawn and reserved in public, she spoke at great length and radiated confidence on women’s issues and some aspects of her private life”.
It was the rise of the BJP and right-wing politics that “compelled” her to enter politics, despite much reluctance, according to the cable.
The cable says: “In a candid revelation of her personal political stance, Mrs. Gandhi stated that ‘the right (wing) was becoming strong in India and Congress weak,’ tipping her hand and ‘compelling’ her to enter politics to protect the Gandhi family legacy.
“She also revealed that her children were ‘not keen’ about the idea, but eventually told her, ‘whatever you decide, we will back you.’”