Is Sonia Gandhi a waitress

Sonia Gandhi takes over the chair of the Congress party again

As popular as Sonia Gandhi is with her supporters in India, her political opponents find reasons to attack. The now 72-year-old is not a real Indian at all, is what the Hindu nationalists in particular bring up again and again. Indeed, the murdered Rajiv Gandhi's widow was born in Italy. But she quickly fitted into the family of her late husband and got on very well with her mother-in-law Indira, who was herself the daughter of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Another accusation that the ruling BJP party never tires of emphasizing: Your Congress Party is deeply rooted in nepotism, corruption and clan wrangling. Only Gandhis could take the lead, there was no room for outsiders.

There is something to the latter accusation. Sonia Gandhi has taken the helm of the party for the second time. The previous boss was her son Rahul. But he suffered a bitter defeat in the elections in May. No one from the Nehru Gandhi dynasty should come to the top anymore, he said when he stepped down. The fact that his mother Sonia is taking over the helm again - at least on an interim basis until the end of the year - is probably the clearest sign of how difficult it is for the traditional party to break the old patterns.

Born in Vicenza, Italy in 1946, the entrepreneur's daughter moved to Cambridge after school to study English. As a part-time waitress, she met her future husband Rajiv there. His mother Indira was the iron ruling prime minister of India at the time. After their wedding in 1968 Sonia moved into her mother-in-law's house in Delhi, and two children were born. In 1984 Indira was assassinated. In 1991 the next stroke of fate occurred: Rajiv was murdered by Tamil terrorists. The calls to Sonia to lead the party herself were loud at the time. But it wasn't until seven years later that she followed them.

During the first BJP government, Sonia was an opposition leader. In the next general election, in 2004, she led Congress to victory. Yet it was not she but Manmohan Singh who became prime minister of the subcontinent. The Hindu nationalists had again campaigned aggressively with Sonia's "non-Indian" origins. And yet she was the longest serving party leader (from 1998 to 2017) in the history of the traditional party. Now she takes over the chair again. (Anna Sawerthal, August 11, 2019)