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Why nobody sat on the same sofa as Sonia Gandhi

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Many of us have been witness to this almost feudal style of functioning that has come to define the Sonia Gandhi era in the Congress.

A young colleague in the Indian Foreign Service related an interesting story. Amongst the thousands who came to greet Sonia Gandhi and her children, Rahul and Priyanka, after the Congress Party’s unexpected victory in the 2004 elections was a person whom the children recognized as an erstwhile security officer assigned to the family. They could not recall the visitor’s name. Before the person concerned had paid his respects and reached home, he had been traced and his appointment to a gubernatorial post was being processed.13 What, I asked, would have been the reward if they had remembered his name? Pat came the reply, he would have been appointed a cabinet minister.

Many of us have been witness to this almost feudal style of functioning that has come to define the Sonia Gandhi era in the Indian National Congress.

In June 2001, Sonia Gandhi, along with Congress leaders Manmohan Singh, Natwar Singh, Murli Deora and Jairam Ramesh, was to travel to Iceland and the United States. On their way, they made a stop in London, where I was serving as
the deputy high commissioner.

Their flight was to land in London in the wee hours, and I was deputed to receive the leader of the Opposition and her party members. Two instances from this meeting still remain with me. I received them at the aerobridge and took them to
the Hillingdon Suite at Heathrow. After we had settled down, I noticed that not one of her colleagues had taken a seat on the same sofa as Gandhi—Manmohan Singh and Natwar Singh were seated at one end of the room, while the others stood behind their leader. Unaware of this ‘protocol’, and finding it rather strange that senior leaders of the party refrained from even sitting on the same sofa as their president, I decided to take a seat across from Gandhi.

The second instance, which I remember vividly, happened when we were leaving the airport for their hotel. As the vehicles we had arranged arrived at the gate, not one of Gandhi’s colleagues took the rear seat in the same car with her.

I found this entire episode rather peculiar and was reminded of the ‘divine right of kings’. Gandhi was treated and put on the pedestal as though she were a monarch in the sixteenth century, asserting power over her subjects in the Indian National Congress. It is still not clear whether this kind of subservience was demanded or was readily forthcoming. God, for the Congress party, was somehow synonymous with the Nehru–Gandhi surname.

The present day ‘cult’ status of the Nehru–Gandhi is largely thanks to Nehru’s daughter, Indira. Facing a bitter revolt from within the party, she proceeded to systematically destroy the institution.

Much has been written about the legacy of Indira Gandhi. Many praise her for taking the bold decision to take on East Pakistan and liberate the peoples of modern-day Bangladesh; others are rightly unforgiving for she put the tantrums of her son (Sanjay) ahead of the interests of the nation.

Her ultimate ‘gift’ to Indian politics, however, is the deep-rooted dynastic nature of our polity. The Indian National Congress, which once had presidents of the stature of Subhash Chandra Bose and Vallabhbhai Patel, today cannot look beyond the Gandhi surname.

This excerpt was taken with permission from the book ‘Delusional Politics’ by Hardeep Singh Puri. It was published by Penguin Random House.

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  1. Why the Congress is what it is today, shrunk mentally to the level of not being able to even judge the wheat from the chaff, the right (of a democratic structure) from the wrong (of authoritarianism, corruption and cult politics). The seeds of all this lie in the statents of those accused in the genocide of Sikhs in 1984–when a man like Sajjan Kumar can state to the innocent victims before murdering them, that you Sikhs ‘killed our mother’! Reducing an elected leader, no matter how good or bad, to a personal property.
    The same Congress that squeals and squeaks about secularism encourages religious obscurantism among the minorities it favours, like the Muslims & the Indian Christians. It vaunts RaGa walking about in a janeou, as though he has a Hugh caste background and yet genuflects in front of a former bar dancer sans degree or a family background! Did you know, Sonia lovers that the madame wears a switch all the time to give an impression of a full head of hair?

  2. No one can deny that Gandhi Nehru Combination set in a Dynastical family rule in India, which was furthered by Mrs. Indira Gandhi & followed by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
    When Rahul Gandhi, MP in former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh Govt. tore down Cabinet’s Ordinance publicly, in a Press Conference, while Manmohan Singh was abroad, speaks volume on the Culture generated, nurtured & followed in Indian National Congress.
    Leaders from outside the Gandhi family were overlooked, humiliated, demeaned & were sidelined one way or the other.

  3. It is funny reading modi bhakts making stupid comments here on a trival issue of a sitting arrangements. We Indians and specially the modi followers kind are a conservative lot and at times hesitate to talk to a woman let alone share a sofa with them.
    Why do not look inwards and see the contempt and disrespect Modi has for his seniors the arrogance with which he was treats them and ignores there folded hands. Are these seniors standings in servile attendance to this arrogant, disrespectful ungrateful uneducated Fringe element.

  4. It’s plain and simple Indian culture ! Don’t read too much into this .And don’t demonize . Every Indian is dynastic by nature . They have been longer at the helm of affairs . Everywhere I see the prime politician is propogating his progeny ! Why pick out a single family ? !!!

  5. We get what we deserve. So called intelligent people like Manmohan,sibal ,chidambaram has no guts to talk interest of the nation,what can we expect from others.
    Manmohan is the worst politician in the history of any nation. His conscience would not leave him and he will cry on his last day and no one will be besides him. Leave apart the politician his wife and daughter will not be beside him when they realise the damage he has done to the nation

  6. Lol look at rice bag converts trying to defend JADIS – their ice witch. Infidels try to understand the real agenda of people of the book or else we’re destined to doom.

  7. Absolutely wrong. She is a woman leader and a widow. Noone will try to sit beside her in sofa or in car. Its indian culture and a nice gesture.
    Such an idiotic finding. So Mamata and Mayawati allows to sit beside her right?


  9. Elections are coming n new sanjay Baru in making . When are you writing about dictatorial style of functioning of your present master ?

  10. The instance of 15-,18 year back found from book published before 5 year use for publish article 3 month before election

    Intention suspeceous and negative pollitics by Mr Hardeep Puri

  11. The antinational dacoit Congress and the fake dynast family has had adopted Dynastic rule, in the name of democracy and fooled Indians since independence.
    Khao aur khane do, was the culture. The politicians and babus took this country and its people for granted, as if they had fallen from sky. Since mafias murderers rapists criminals and rogues disguised as ministers cheap ministers and so on, it was difficult to reach them for even genuine problems. These mafia politicians naturally the law makers and expert law breakers, assumed themselves above the law, misbehaved with public exhibiting utmost arrogance, unfortunately the culture has not changed till date.

  12. We indians are basically slaves, we enjoy licking arse, white is creamy…so much the better, our DNA is corrupted…nay it is corruption, pure corruption. The
    Print too is making huge money by writing fake news, a rogue media stooge of the antinationals…
    If only every Indian did not offer alms to those in Power, things would be different but we are greedy, corrupt and selfish to the core… We need a dictator, who will kick us in the fking arse and put some discipline,

  13. Please remember this is the Congress formed by Indira Congress (I) with symbol hand. So it is obvious that tile Gandhi will have preferance to keep it United. The Congress which you are talking has died in 70s Now Congress (I) is called I N C

  14. Hardeep Puri is an astute political observer of who sits next to who – this is an area not many political observers and practitioners talk about – sheer genious – and got to sit next to royalty – definitely destined for the party think tank

  15. This is a fact. The word ‘secular’ introduced into the Constitution later on by Mrs Gandhi is being effectively used by these politicians to divide people along religious lines for votes. Since then our country has been paying heavily. It is high time that the people apply their minds tounderstand the vicious designs of these brute_politicians and act accordingly.

  16. The influence of Gandhi family in Indian polity is so much, that today if Rahul Gandhi’s pretty dog Pidi decides to detect and come to BJP, he would be given a cabniet post.

  17. Congress part and the sychophants in the party are a curse on India.People without dignity or self-respect,are parading as national leaders.
    Shameless people.Idont know how they can sleep at night.Thinking of them make me sick in the stomach.

  18. This is part of the Gulami culture . It is quite prevalent.
    I can now state what happened with me, in one of the Navratna PSU.
    The CVO who came from govt ( IRS) , had quite a big ego. No one ( even just below next level ) will not sit in front of him , and will always talk be ding his back. I saw that all. I had recently joined the Vigilence Dept from organization ‘s other Department. I used to sit in front ( he never offered the chair , so I used to pull one a sit down comfortably). I understood he did not like that , but I did not care. It so happened that on asome point we had differences . I explained my position. He said you won’t be able to work in the department, I said ok , I will move out. Before I could manage my transfer out he got HR to throw me to a remote location along with my wife in three days. I met him to allow me to have a suitable change as other Department had agreed to take me. He told me( and my wife was present) , I SHOULD HAVE TREATED HIM LIKE GOD. I was stunned. I left his room . Met my CMD. But every one was afraid of him. Ultimately me and my wife had to spend 1.5 years without much of work at another location.
    This man was caught after wards by CBI in a corruption case. I do not know the present status.
    Point is this type of behavior is very common. It is there in IAS / IPS / IRS. They are arrogant and yes good number are corrupt. They think they should be treated like a Monarch. I have bad experience of their behaviour. At least the once whom I had to interact during my service with the PSU , where I was not even reporting to them.

  19. Sonia Maino is a pure evil.
    Today the choice is not not between honest n corrupt but between Honest and Evil.
    Sonia led party cannot be allowed to rule back ever. They will loot n leave the country in doldrums for ever.

  20. Normally slaves don’t sit along with their matter. The writer might perhaps missed the real heirarchy in Indira Congress. The present Congress party is not indian national Congress but Indira Congress, consequent upon a division in the party. Subsequently the Indira Congress is referred to as khangress.

  21. This is what can be commented as trying to make mountain out of mole.Any person who come to have access to some information or incidence by virtue of his possession expected to keep the information as confidential not for his story writing
    This is question of ethics. I Amano political entity

  22. There’s more Hitler type functioning under Modi. Modi is worse than Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi. Destroyed CBI, RBI – Demonetization , CVC, Election Commission, NSO – Fudged GDP Data, Unemployment Data Being illiterate, he put a Sick Jetley LLB, Finance Illiterate as FM who sank India’s boat by Demonetization, Mudra Loans etc.

  23. But isn’t it part of Indian culture, repulsive it may be? I am surprised that Mr. Puri had missed noticing it before.

  24. I was the only one who had predicted in first week of Feb 2004 before more than 2 months before parliament elections that Congress will win election with salender margin and will firm the Govt in centre with Mr. Manmohan Singh as PM.

  25. It is a tragedy that we Indians think all white skinned persons are above us and behave with them As orderlies. This is worst with congress men. They will do any thing from pressing the leaders under garments to cleaning the foot ware for some favour. The real fun is the great lady enjoys shamelessly.I think this culture will go once congress is thrown out of power completely.

  26. Sir, be prepared to be criticised, ridiculed and abused by the servants, jesters and courtiers of the royal court.

  27. Mao once famously said that for an average Chinese foreigner fart smells of perfume.
    This is what is happening in Congress.
    Bunch of serviles.

  28. Very stupid thoughts of the writer. Why didn’t he sit on that sofa?? Did anyone stop him from doing so? I assume, instead of doing his job he was busy finding faults.

  29. How many of the senior leaders of BJP are bold enough to sit with modi on the same sofa? Not even his man friday Jaitley

  30. I am ashamed of all the leaders of INC. these men are not men but enuchs. Even enuchs have spine but these people are just dogs waiving tails in front of her. What is Sonia’s capability and capacity. Congress shall be completely erased from Indian political scene.

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