Sonia is undisputed Congress chief
There was little possibility of an insider challenging Sonia Gandhi for the Congress presidentship. Still, when she was elected unopposed for the fourth term on Friday, there was unanimity in the party that Sonia had earned the undisputed leadership rather than merely inheriting a dynastic post. Sonia was declared winner for a fourth consecutive term in a one-horse race, with PM Manmohan Singh leading partymen in congratulating her on the lawns of 24, Akbar Road.
Sonia thanked the workers in a brief speech by saying that Congress represented “sentiments and aspirations of every section and part of India and this realisation has made me do whatever little I could”. For the battery of gathered ministers and organisational leaders and observers who have followed the trajectory of Sonia's presidency, this was an understatement. According to them, Sonia's achievement was bigger than any past leader as she reversed a continuing post-Babri free fall to make Congress the undisputed winner in 2009. This bit becomes more significant if seen in the backdrop of her plunge coinciding with the rise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. That the BJP-led Opposition is now in disarray is seen as a result of Sonia's sucker punch. For insiders, Sonia's signature achievement has been to give direction to Congress which was torn between a post-Rao reformist image and a rising BJP which threatened to leave it stranded by appropriating reforms. It was here that Sonia's “aam aadmi” struck a chord with the old party constituency and balanced the tilt.