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The real conflicts of interest

How you reacted to Sonia's resignation depends on what you already thought of her and Cong, writes Vir Sanghvi in Counterpoint. Why this sudden obsession?

india Updated: Mar 26, 2006 04:46 IST

How you reacted to Sonia Gandhi’s resignation depends, largely, on what you already believed about the Congress and Sonia herself. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of Indians, who had no political axe to grind, treated it as confirmation of something they already felt: that while Sonia was motivated by a strong sense of duty, she had no great love of office.

So, having tired of the suggestion that the government was considering changing the law only to resolve the conflict over her status, she decided that she did not particularly want to be an MP anyway — at least not if it meant having to pass ordinances and live with the criticism that the rules were being altered to suit her.

If, on the other hand, you were already pre-disposed to be hostile to the Congress and Sonia — and perhaps to Indian politicians in general — you probably took the line that she was caught in a bind and had no choice but to resign. And if you were a journo, you may have argued that she converted a crisis into an opportunity and that her resignation was a political masterstroke.

All three interpretations are valid in their own way and even though I incline to the first view, I am quite happy to concede that people have the right to be cynical: after all, cynicism is the lifeblood of political journalism and the duty of every Opposition is to be cynical about the motives of every government.

So, I am not going to waste your time this Sunday with yet another piece about Sonia Gandhi or more tedious analysis of her motives. God knows we’ve all read enough of those pieces over the last three days.

My concern this week is not related to Sonia’s role in the controversy; it is, in fact, the controversy itself. My fear is that in this era of sound-bite journalism and 250-word news stories, we have allowed ourselves to be diverted from the real issue. And that issue is not how and why Sonia Gandhi resigned from Parliament. It is the controversy that led up to her resignation.

First Published: Mar 26, 2006 01:26 IST