Sonia emerges as a leader in control
Even as deliberations at the three-day brain storming session of the Congress started, a conscious attempt to portray Sonia Gandhi as a leader who is in full control was initiated.
In fact, after her speech, she came across as a confident person who in the last five years had evolved into a mature and seasoned leader who not only understood the problems of the country but was also not shy of setting the agenda.
"There is never any shortage of advice on any subject. I listen to all my colleagues. We may not agree but I do seek a consensus. Ultimately the decision is mine," she said.
The remarks also countered any suggestion that she works at the behest of a coterie. The remarks also sought to send a signal that she was in command and hers was the final word on all matters.
The image building exercise assumes significance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls as the Congress would want to project its leader as a person who was both confident as well as capable of handling key issues concerning the country.
And unlike in 1999 when the elections became a confrontation between Sonia and Vajpayee, the party is assuming that the overall failures of the NDA government have already given the Congress and its leader the upper hand.
In addition, the impression that has been sought to be projected is that in the Congress, Sonia was the sole supreme leader while in the BJP, the leadership issue between Vajpayee and Advani kept popping up from time to time.
In any case, a resurrected Congress under Sonia would present a formidable challenge to the combined might of the NDA. While the foreigner issue had bogged down the Congress campaign the last time, the party and its leader seem to have gained greater acceptability in the last five years.
The Congress rules in 16 states and the foreigner issue, barring some quarters, is no longer a major poll factor.
Sonia's new avtaar was also evident from the manner in which she asked party colleagues to put an end to personal interests. "All of us must think of nothing else but the party, subordinating personal egos and ambitions.”