Congress lucky to have her at the helm, her guidance needed more than ever, says Sachin Pilot

She has been a motivating force and I have seen her tireless work to empower women, initiate schemes for the welfare of women and children and promote younger leaders

Congress lucky to have her at the helm, her guidance needed more than ever, says Sachin Pilot

Sachin Pilot

I have had the privilege of having known Soniaji since my early years. In 1991, following the assassination of Rajivji, she refused to join politics as she never had any interest in active politics. But at the insistence of senior leaders of the Congress party in 1998, she agreed to join the Congress and started her political career from Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu, where her husband was brutally killed.

After joining politics, she worked to restore unity and harmony in the party. She took up the task of strengthening a party that had over 100 years of history and had played a key role in fighting the British and earning freedom. During the 2004 election her tireless campaigning on public issues called the bluff on the hollow claims of “India Shining”.

She turned down the PM’s chair after a tremendous win in the general election of 2004 and despite pleas by leaders and workers alike. It was a sacrifice that set an example in public life. Dr. Manmohan Singh proved to be a brilliant economic reformer and opened up the rigid Indian economy. Both Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia ji worked with complete understanding. As the leader of the UPA, she introduced many pro-poor schemes and programs for people which included debt waiver for millions of small scale farmers.

The massive job creation scheme for the rural unemployed peoples was given the name of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005. It was the world’s biggest employment programme that aimed to enhance livelihood security in the rural areas by providing at least 100 days of employment in a financial year to every household. The scheme was primarily focused on employing women. The world praised this initiative of the UPA government and during the Corona pandemic when people suffered because of lack of employment opportunities, the MGNREGA was there to support the most underprivileged amongst us.

A courageous torchbearer of the Nehruvian legacy, she has time and again motivated the party. She has excellent negotiating skills and brought together all the secular parties together to form the government in 2004. She has been more focused on social causes and is dedicated to a modern and egalitarian India.

In a large, diverse and unequal country like India with a complex , even imperfect, democracy, it could not have been easy but with her perseverance and singular focus, she has overcome life’s challenges and provided leadership when it was needed.

After finishing my MBA from the Wharton Business School, I worked in the corporate world but the death of my father altered the course of my life. I recall how Mrs. Gandhi consoled the family in that hour of grief. She was there with us in our saddest moments. It was under her presidentship that I joined politics and contested the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Dausa, my father’s constituency, and won.

In the 2009 Lok sabha election, because of delimitation, the Dausa constituency was reserved for Scheduled Tribes and I could not contest from that constituency. I was fielded from Ajmer and I was elected for the second time to the Lok Sabha from Ajmer. In 2012, I became a minister in the cabinet of Dr Manmohan Singh. It was largely due to the initiative of Sonia Ji that younger leaders were included in the cabinet.

After the Congress party lost power in 2014, I was asked by Soniaji and Rahulji to take the rein of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress. It was a crucial period for the Congress following political and electoral reverses. I took up the job as the Rajasthan PCC President and I received enormous support from both Soniaji and Rahulji that enabled Congress to come back to power in 2018. I was handling the dual charge of Deputy Chief Minister and also as PCC President.

The party came back to power because of the hard work of the party’s cadre and I felt party workers should be adequately rewarded. I brought some of these matters to the notice of the party leadership, and I am thankful to Sonia ji for taking up several issues that were raised by me.

I have been in politics for two decades now and I have discharged whatever responsibilities the party had assigned to me. But these are challenging times as the present government has plunged the country into crises on multiple fronts. The country, I believe, needs the Congress and the party needs Sonia Ji’s guidance more than ever. (As told to Prakash Bhandari)

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines