End of an era! Sonia Gandhi moves to Rajya Sabha, not to contest elections

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End of an era! Sonia Gandhi moves to Rajya Sabha, not to contest elections
End of an era! Sonia Gandhi moves to Rajya Sabha, not to contest elections

New Delhi : Sonia Gandhi, matriarch of the Indian National Congress, will bow out of the Lok Sabha this year, marking the end of a 25-year electoral journey. Her tenure is even more impressive considering her non-Indian origins and the tumultuous political landscape she entered following her husband's assassination.

While stepping down from the Lok Sabha, Gandhi, 77, isn't leaving public life entirely. This is a strategic repositioning, as she ascends to the Rajya Sabha. Guaranteed a seat thanks to the Congress' majority, she replaces fellow stalwart Manmohan Singh, potentially ending his celebrated five-decade career.

Gandhi's political debut involved contesting from both Amethi (Uttar Pradesh) and Bellary (Karnataka), winning both in 1999. This followed the assassination of her husband, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, eight years prior. Persuaded to help revive the party, she shifted to Raebareli (Uttar Pradesh) in 2004, another Congress stronghold.

Since 1999, Gandhi has been a constant presence, a stabilizing force for her party navigating turbulent political terrains. While often letting colleagues take the limelight, she wasn't averse to strong pronouncements. In 2023, she challenged the BJP on the Women's Reservation Bill and the suspension of opposition MPs.

Her 2018 critique of the government, stating "lectures can't fill stomachs" and emphasizing the need for basic necessities, resonated deeply. Similarly, her 2015 challenge against Modi's "transparency promises" highlighted key concerns.

As a prominent opposition figure, Gandhi naturally faced attacks, particularly regarding her Italian heritage. Some, including current ally Sharad Pawar, questioned her credentials, a tactic often employed by the BJP. However, she rarely faltered, even when accused of "lying" by a minister in 2018.

Sonia Gandhi's legacy is multifaceted. She led the Congress through challenging times, faced personal attacks with dignity, and served as a crucial voice of opposition. While her Lok Sabha stint ends, her influence on Indian politics undoubtedly continues.