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Updated: March 27, 2011 05:39 IST

‘Sonia more comfortable with Left than with regional allies'

Suresh Nambath
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In the eyes of American diplomats, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appeared more comfortable working with the Left than with the regional parties in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). File Photo
The Hindu
In the eyes of American diplomats, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appeared more comfortable working with the Left than with the regional parties in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). File Photo

In the eyes of American diplomats, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appeared more comfortable working with the Left than with the regional parties in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

In an assessment of Sonia Gandhi during the period of the first UPA government, a cable sent on April 6, 2005 (30212: confidential), under the name of Ambassador David Mulford, said: “Sonia and the Congress leadership complain about Communist obstruction, but are convinced that these parties, although ideological, are not ‘irresponsible.' In the eyes of Congress leaders, most Communists are ‘pragmatic,' projecting an image of looking after the poor and downtrodden, in order to mollify the party faithful, while not preventing government from functioning.”

Weekly meetings

According to the cable, she appeared “more comfortable working with the often high-caste and well-educated Communists than with regional satraps” of the State-based parties. “Several interlocutors claimed that the weekly meetings with the Communists, also attended by Mrs. Gandhi, are more important than the UPA Steering Committee meetings, as Congress has determined that it will put forward no significant economic initiative without first vetting it with the Communists, and attempting to gain their assent. In addition to formal meetings, Mrs. Gandhi calls Left Front leaders to her residence for breakfast on an ad hoc basis. The breakfasts take place only when Sonia and her advisors deem that there is an issue so pressing that it requires a conclave.”

The cable added: “While many in the Congress inner circle have some affinity with the Communists and work together with them on selected issues, they view the regional satraps of the UPA allies with disdain, and prefer to keep them at arm's length. The recent Congress fiasco in Bihar, for example, convinced many in Congress that Bihar-based politicos Laloo Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan are ‘loose cannons' who cannot be trusted. Their disdain for these often rustic regional politicians has prevented Congress from properly managing the UPA coalition. Because of these engrained prejudices, Congress has been unable to focus on the BJP as its principal adversary, and instead has become mired in internecine squabbling.”

The Congress, the Embassy cabled, had evolved an elaborate culture aimed at protecting the Gandhi dynasty. “Mrs. Gandhi's inner circle carefully controls her access to information, and inoculates her from criticism, while her carefully scripted public appearances protect her from making gaffes or missteps. This has the advantage of preserving the ‘sanctity' of Mrs. Gandhi and the dynasty, but can also complicate her efforts to wield power. This system prevents Mrs. Gandhi from asserting herself and reduces her charisma, and makes her overly reliant on a selected group, which may not always have her or the party's best interests at heart.”

Congress culture

Mrs. Gandhi had deliberately attempted to preserve the image of being ‘above the fray' politically, “taking maximum advantage of Congress culture, which prescribes that the party figurehead be surrounded by an ‘inner coterie' to provide advice, and shield the leader from criticism and dissent.” The Gandhis, the cable continued, “remain coy as to which of their many advisors are ‘in' and which are ‘out,' leading to endless speculation, and large numbers of people claiming to be close to the Gandhi family.”

U.S. Embassy contacts generally agreed that she and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have defined their roles “with the PM acting as a corruption-free technocrat handling governance,” and she concentrating on the “constant give-and-take associated with running an enormous political party with tens of millions of members and a disparate coalition.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via WikiLeaks.)

The truth is Sonia is an Italian-Indian who has opted to live in India after her husband's death to raise her Indian children with Italian blood.If she is more comfortable with "educated communists from poor background" than upper class people with tradition but very little money other than land; it is very understandable.She herself hails from an ordinary working class family.But she deserve a lot of credit for raising her children in India,.

from:  Menon
Posted on: Oct 8, 2011 at 03:57 IST

Left wing parties have educated people who are not communal and also work with the poor of the country.

from:  Shaji Kalandyil
Posted on: Mar 28, 2011 at 16:24 IST

Communists are on people side and they always work for the welfare of the farmers and the common man. Their goals are very simple - fight against the inequalities and social justice. Majority of the existing regional leaders in India are under educated and don't possess good technical and functional knowledge of the issues and problems in their localities. They are existed to gain the power and get benefited out of it and to encash the regional disturbances arisen. We have to choose and elect those leaders who can understand the concerns of the people and resolve their problems and engaged in the socio-economic development of the nation rather than increasing their wealth. Communists are strong leaders and have ability to change the face of India.

from:  Shashi
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 16:37 IST

The relation between INC (Indian National Congress) and Communists (the then CPI) is not clear to many of our contemporary times. The relation is rather time-tested and stood strong in all major movements organised againt British Rule. After Independence during the tenure of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (first Prime Minister of India) this relation was also strong. It was at the Indo-China War the relation deteriorated as US influenced on Indian Administration was increasing leaps-and-bound. Hence the way was divided, though each party INC and CPIM/CPI followed independently their own Program and Strategy. So to an ignorant they may try to find something wrong when both Parties agree to work closely due to the ideological compulsions. One such ideological area is to strengthen the Secularism in India. But it will be a misconception that some communists leaders lost their images in Public. However, the Communalist never prefer to see both INC and CPIM/CPI are working together on a common programme.

from:  Basab Roy
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 14:26 IST

Mulford's remarks seem logical as in the UPA-1 Congress did share power with the left. Secondly the late Comrade HS Surjit had always been close to the Congress. Politics is the art of possible and no player would like to take drastic steps in a democratic set up for the fear of raising expectations of the masses that could not fulfilled in near future. We all know how Jayalalita behaved with NDA, JMM with Congress and how the Janata Party dispensation could not hold together. Left wing parties have educated people who are not communal and also work with the poor of the country. Therefore they become natural allies of any secular party in India.

from:  Gurinder Ahluwalia
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 13:41 IST

She is proving again and again that she is intelligent enough to control India even though she is not our P.M.

from:  SUNEER
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 12:52 IST

It is true to Sonia' family tradition right from Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru about socialist pattern of society and pain for poor and toiling masses of the country. She knew very well that her alliance with left parties will definitely usher an era of equality in the country. She was also in the very knowledge of regional parties leaders including Karunanidhi, Laloo Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav, TC of Mamta Bannerjee or Mayawati etc always hanker after more and more pound of flesh for supporting the UPA one and two in running the affairs of the country. Therefore she always kept them at arm legnth. Sonia definitely got a lot of ideas of welfare measures including Nrega, right to information, non-disinvestment of profit making undertakings of the government, measures for women development and countrywide schemes to help the poor like loan waivings , health programme and education development at the cost of the union government. All these pro-poor measures were initially anchored by left parties, which gave boost to the prestige of UPA government and the Congress raised its number of seats in the last Lok Sabha elections. By deserting alliance with left parties in the wake of nuclear energy issue under the pressure of pro-capitalists and corporates led by imperialist America, Sonia committed grave error of judgement. Notwithstanding Manmohan proved a good PM comparatively because his role was above controversy except his lackadiasical approach towards DMK minister , particulaly Raja - but Manmohan also proved a devil for non-implementing pro-poor measures as enunciated by left alliance. All these steps of Manmohan Singh have practicaly resulted in scams after scams , mainly by regional parties including of DMK and this has spoiled the pro-poor image of Sonia. Sadly, why Sonia succubms to the pressure of his senior party colleagues including Manmohan, Pranab to sideline left parties, who were working well with sonia and there were check and balance on UPA government.

from:  krishn kumar singh
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 12:16 IST

Mrs. Gandhi must have now understood how the help of regional parties can be so insulting for the Congress Party, how they have been sidelined in West Bengal by the TMC, how they have been made to surrender to the wishes of Ms. Mamata Bannerjee. Mrs. Gandhi has no alternative but to swallow the badly run Indian Railways which has become a burden to the Govt. of India.

It is clear that she has surrendered to the anti left forces within the country and outside as is evident from the previously published cables by your newspaper.

from:  Bimal Majumder
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 11:59 IST

Actually CPI(M) become identified as a co partner of Congress party and lost its great image. Most of its senior leaders who are in parliament and in central party office use to keep close contact with UPA and Sonia Gandhi except Prakash Karat. How could they prove that Manmohan Singh is not corrupt. Congress has all alone been very corrupt and many of its leaders were immoral in character.They have divided the country and loot its wealth.Advasi and poor never get the proper benifit from Congress party Most of the BJP leaders are coming from Congress background. Wikileaks has expose further the character of Indian communist party leaders.CPI was long time back was known as Congress Party of India since Dange. Still middle class hope for some change under the leadership of Prakash Karat.

from:  Chanchal Dutta
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 08:30 IST

Its always good to work with well educated Left Leaders then semi educated regional leaders.

from:  Amit Chakraborty
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 08:29 IST
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