When Sonia Gandhi declined to become PM, irate party workers from Amethi told Ambika Soni to "shave your head like Uma Bharati" if her grief was genuine. She didn't take their advice, but she did emulate Sonia's act of renunciation, declining a cabinet berth. In an interview, she tells Outlook why. Excerpts:
A cabinet berth is something all politicians want. Why did you turn it down?
Mrs Gandhi's decision not to become PM had a tremendous impact, raising morale and leaving the BJP without a plank. But when the whole exercise of forming the cabinet started and everyone wanted to be in government, I found myself thinking who was going to be in the party? If some of us were to stay and work in her team we could keep up the high she had generated.
There was also a personal element. All along in the last six years, people have said I've been getting whatever I have because I am a sycophant. Getting a cabinet berth would have been seen that way. And that's not the case; I have a passion for politics, but it is not my profession. Having taken the...