Sonia Gandhi is graceful, dignified and ‘correct’, writes Sheila Dikshit

Sonia Gandhi is a person who has the sense of what should be done and how it should be done. This sense of timing and ‘correctness’ has translated into political decisions also

Getty Images
Getty Images
user

Sheila Dikshit

I have seen Sonia Gandhi when she just got married, when she was the wife of the Prime Minister, when she herself became Congress President and took over charge of the Congress. So, I really can’t tell you when I met her first or what my impression was because the relationship kept on changing according to what she was doing. I know her for as long as she has been in India. It has always struck me how graceful she is.

Sonia Gandhi is the most ‘correct’ and perfect human being I have ever met. I will explain why. It’s her attitude. Being a European, the way she adjusted herself in India is something that is remarkable. I know that she was very close to her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. She looked after her, looked after the household and did other things that she was required to do. Sonia is a person who has the sense of what should be done and how it should be done. This sense of timing and ‘correctness’ has translated into political decisions also.

While taking political decisions, Sonia takes every aspect into consideration, be it society, security and growth of the country. She seems to understand India as much as any other Indian does. She has adopted and absorbed herself in the Indian culture and Indian civilisation is something very remarkable.

Sonia took a long time to decide whether she should get into politics at all. Politics had hurt her as she lost her mother in law and her husband because they were political people. So she kept away from it for a long time but eventually when she got a message that she was required by the Congress party, she had no hesitation giving up her personal likes and dislikes and helped the Congress win two consecutive elections under her leadership. She did not become the Prime Minister herself and instead chose Manmohan Singh.

If you look at it from the Indian point of view, it was a major sacrifice and everyone respected Sonia for that decision. She understood the need of the country. Though many of us who personally knew her were emotional, she never became emotional.

I found Sonia very frank in her views. Whenever she thought that something was not being done in the way it should have been done, she always frankly spoke about it. She also noticed what was being done right and was kind enough to appreciate it, often not in words but in action.

Sheila Dikshit: “Sonia took a long time to decide whether she should get into politics at all. Politics had hurt her as she lost her mother in law and her husband because they were political people. So she kept away from it for a long time but eventually when she got a message that she was required by the Congress party, she had no hesitation giving up her personal likes and dislikes and helped the Congress win two consecutive elections under her leadership. She did not become the Prime Minister herself and instead chose Manmohan Singh.”

There are two incidents I can recall, both connected with each other. One was when she asked me to contest from East Delhi for a seat in Parliament. I was taken aback and I told her that I wasn’t involved in politics in Delhi and I knew nothing about Delhi. She said I would get to know the water when I got into it. I could not say no to her and she was not even Congress President at that time. I felt that there must have been some good reason why she had picked me and felt that I should not let her down.

Having lost that election, she asked me to become the President of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, which again was a big surprise. But I think she could see into the future and that’s why she took such bold decisions. I was also certain that if she had taken a decision, then she must have thought it out.

Though Sonia’s critics spoke of her foreign origin, I had seen her seamlessly adjust herself to Indian culture and with the family she was married into. I could see in her the perfect mother, a perfect wife and this bogey of ‘foreign origin’ didn’t upset her as she has a very good understanding of Indian politics. She is very simple in her food habits and she is very careful about what she eats. As far as her dress is concerned, everybody knows that she dresses up extremely well like her mother-in-law and is careful to dress up for the occasion.

I don’t say that I know her intimately but I do know that when Indira Gandhi was alive, Sonia looked after her mother-in-law and the children and took care of the household. When she became the wife of a Prime Minister, she was dignified, quiet and kept her distance. She would come to some official functions but she remained quiet and didn’t speak much.

(As told to S Khurram Raza)

Click here to join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines