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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014

‘Tardy pace in Rajiv death probe had Sonia upset with Narasimha Rao’

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 12, 2014
First Published: 21:21 IST(12/2/2014) | Last Updated: 00:29 IST(13/2/2014)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi believed that so long former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao remained in power, the probe into the assassination of her husband Rajiv Gandhi would reach nowhere, says a book written by Union minister KV Thomas.

Titled – Sonia: The Beloved Of The Masses – the book goes on to say that Gandhi had even censured Rao for the inordinate delay in the probe and even “pointed an accusing finger” at the government.

Thomas quotes an aggrieved Gandhi as having said on 24 August 1995 that “If the investigation related to the killing of a former prime minister was to take so much time what would be the fate of ordinary citizens who fight for justice?”

According to him, the differences between Gandhi and Rao started with some disagreement over issues related to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and got aggravated with the denial of Rajya Sabha nomination from Karnataka to her close confidante Vincent George. Her statement on the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition also contained a veiled criticism of the Rao government.

This is not the first time that late Rao has come under attack from Congress leaders. Party MP Mani Shankar Aiyar had once remarked that Rao had a conflict with the Congress party over secularism.

Thomas also attacks union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar in the soon to be released book that is an English version of “Sonia Priyankari” in Malayalam. In the chapter titled “Backstabbing”, he says Pawar’s somersault on Gandhi’s foreign origin issue was like the chief of armed forces joining the enemy camp since it was him who had issued statements that she should lead the party.

The book says there was little rapport between Sonia and Pawar and she always used to keep some distance from him. “Perhaps, she had in her mind Rajiv’s observation that Pawar, though capable, was not trustworthy. Pawar’s track record bears testimony to this,” it adds.

Pawar has eyed the second in command position in the party enjoyed by Arjun Singh and had calculated that if Gandhi became the prime minister after the 13th Lok Sabha, his pet dream of becoming the PM would never be realised, says Thomas who worked under Pawar from 2009 to 2011.

The remarks come at a time when the Congress-NCP just concluded their seat-sharing agreement for coming general elections. The two parties are in alliance since 1999.

The book gives intricate account of how Gandhi broke into tears when her son Rahul Gandhi was anointed as the party vice-president in Jaipur last year. “The images of the tragic death of her husband might have flashed through her mind….That was why she told him that power was toxic,” says the book.


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