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'Sonia Gandhi a typical Hindu'

"She has inherited a lot of qualities of her mother-in-law," says 86-year-old priest Gaya Prasad Shukla.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2006 22:02 IST

For 86-year-old Gaya Prasad Shukla, Congress president Sonia Gandhi behaved like a "typical Hindu" as she participated in a havan ritual on Monday before filing her nomination for the May 8 parliamentary by-election.

Shukla, who performed the ritual at the Congress party headquarters in the afternoon, had also conducted the same ritual for Gandhi during the 2004 election.

"She (Sonia Gandhi) has inherited a lot of qualities of her mother-in-law. She and her family performed the Hindu ritual in a manner typical of any other Hindu. And this is the not the first time she performed the ritual. She did it the last time too," said the unassuming priest.

Shukla had earlier performed similar havans for Sonia's mother-in-law and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi during her electoral fights for the Rae Bareli seat from the 1960s to the mid-1980s, and for father-in-law Feroze Gandhi in the 1950s.

The priest related an incident on Monday to prove his point.

He said after everyone had sat down for the puja, Sonia's son and MP Rahul Gandhi stepped out for a while. Though Shukla was ready to begin, Sonia asked him to wait till her son returned.

"She wanted that everyone should be there. That is the Hindu tradition of having the entire family present during a ritual."

Journalists were not allowed into the Congress headquarters while the havan was on.

Sonia resigned her Lok Sabha seat March 23 over the opposition's accusation that she was holding an "office of profit" in her capacity as chair of the National Advisory Council.