22 January, 2021

End Of The Longest Regency

Sonia Gandhi took the reins of the Congress amidst turmoil and uncertainty. On her way out now, a look at how she won power and ran the party all these years.

Photograph by Alamy
End Of The Longest Regency

1996 Congress lost the general elections, Narasimha Rao stepped down as party president. Sonia refused to interfere in the appointment of Rao’s successor. She was surprised when Sitaram Kesri replaced Rao. But it was the best possible stop-gap arrangement.

1997 Sonia took primary membership of the Congress at the Calcutta session. In her speech she said, “Our ideology of nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism is the only relevant ideology for our country”.

1998 Kesri was unceremoniously removed. Sonia became the party president. The biggest task before her was to keep the party united amidst many leaders’ threat to quit. Several Congress leaders persuaded her to campaign for the party and its revival.

1998 The Pachmarhi brainstorming session or Chintan Shivir was the most significant conclave which is often referred to even today. The party drafted a 14-point plan for Panchayati Raj and an 8-point plan for agriculture. A commitment to...



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