'Sonia Gandhi's refusal a sign of weakness'

Published on May 19, 2004 03:42 PM IST

Sonia's opting out of the PM post is being viewed as a sign of weakness in Jammu and Kashmir and where many believe that her move proves that foreign origin is an issue.

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PTI | ByFaisal Ahmed (Indo-Asian News Service), Srinagar

In sharp contrast to the rest of the country, Congress president Sonia Gandhi's refusal to become India's prime minister has generally been viewed in Jammu and Kashmir as a sign of weakness.

"She is abdicating even before she assumed power. It is a political blunder the Congress would find hard to correct," said a senior Congress leader, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"She is proving that her foreign origin is deeply ingrained in her mind. I am sorry to say this, but the fact is that she is a very weak person. Politically at least, it is a disaster," the Congress leader added.

"It is her fear and not any show of strength. You don't succumb to gimmicks like rivals threatening to tonsure their heads and then sit on the moral high ground of sacrifice," opined journalist Naseer Ahmed.

"She should not have captioned the Congress fleet if her inner voice wanted something else. What is this question of conscience stopping her now? She must take a closer look at contemporary Indian politics," Ahmed added.

Congress workers from all over the Kashmir Valley gathered at the party headquarters in this summer capital and burnt effigies of outgoing Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Health Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had threatened to tonsure her head if Gandhi became the prime minister.

Some of the more agitated ones even said Gandhi's decision could disintegrate the party, which had found a consolidating force in her.

Political analysts here are interpreting Gandhi's decision as a sort of post election victory for her rivals in the outgoing National Democratic Alliance.

"She has thrown the Congress into a tailspin. Why did she agree to become the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the first place? I am sure when the initial euphoria about the so-called sacrifice settles down, she would have emerged a fully humbled person," said a keen Kashmir watcher here.

"She has vindicated the stand of her bitter enemies. She has proved that her foreign origin is still the central issue in Indian politics," felt college student Zubair Ahmed.

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