United Progressive Alliance Chairperson and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi spoke to the press after suffering defeat in the elections for the Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman post. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) candidate Harivansh Narayan Singh won the elections defeating the opposition candidate B K Hariprasad by a margin of 20 votes. While Congress could not make its candidate win despite having the support of Samajwadi Party, NCP, BSP, DMK, CPI and other allies, NDA easily managed to secure 125 votes against 105 for the UPA candidate. Talking after the defeat Sonia Gandhi said, “Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose”. This single line is enough to assess what is going on in the minds of the ex-Congress President and how hopeful she is of her party’s prospects in the upcoming days.
Sonia Gandhi is a powerful figure in the Indian politics and while many would say she has been given and not earned the place owing to the Nehru-Gandhi family name, she nonetheless has been a rock solid support for the Congress. From restructuring the Congress which meant wiping out dissenting and rebel leaders from her party she had reshaped the identity of the party. Even today when she suffers from health issues and age related problems she still remains active and is much sought after by the Congress supporters, especially after the debacle which follows her son and successor Rahul Gandhi. It must be difficult for Sonia Gandhi to accept this defeat considering she had overseen and led from the front in many Lok Sabha and state elections since the late 90s which Congress won. A defeat in the Rajya Sabha, where BJP is not even in the majority at present must have hurt her to the core. The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were the starting point, everything has been downhill for the Congress since then. From state elections, to forging alliances Congress seems to have lost the art of doing politics in India. Presidential elections, elections for the post of Vice-President, No confidence motion, Lok Sabha speaker elections and the latest Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman election, these are the ones which were fought by political parties and Congress lost all of them, the list would be endless if state and local body elections were to be added.
There is only one conclusion which can be derived from the Congress leader’s remark, she has lost all hope. Her words hint towards the fact that she was well aware of what would follow the elections in the Rajya Sabha; this also explains why she chose not to attack allies and non-aligned parties. Neither did her words include praise for the Congress leadership for securing 105 votes nor did she mention anything about the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections. She seems to have simply accepted the fate which Congress is going to be subjected to in the upcoming days, the Sonia Gandhi from 2004 or 2009 days would have hinted towards 2019 being the real battle and thanking her allies for their support. Only time will tell how many more days Sonia is going to stay in active politics, but statements like these hint towards her retracting into a shell. It would be devastating for the Congress if she chooses to retire early because the baton she has passed over has fallen into incompetent hands and everybody understands that Rahul needs an overseer.