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Whose UPA? 98 letters show Sonia's the boss

Whose UPA? 98 letters show Sonia's the boss

Author: Diptosh Majumdar
Publication: IBNLive.com
Date: August 3, 2008
URL: http://www.ibnlive.com/news/whose-upa-98-letters-show-sonias-the-boss/70334-3.html?

In a startling revelation, CNN-IBN has in its possession, 98 letters of historic significance that show how there was a dual power centre in the UPA regime.

In response to an RTI application filed by CNN-IBN, the Prime Minister's Office revealed how in the first four years of the UPA rule, Sonia Gandhi wrote and forwarded 98 letters to the Prime Minister and in 90 per cent of the cases, her requests were immediately acted upon.

Congress members however, brush off any allegations of dual power.

Congress Spokesperson, Manish Tiwar says, "Essentially, it reflects the seamless relationship which is there between the Chairperson of the UPA and the Prime Minister. I don't think there is any duality involved. The role of the Congress President as Chairperson of the UPA is to keep the political unit UPA cohesive."

The findings, however, also indicate the diminishing influence of Sonia Gandhi.

In the seven months after UPA came to power in May 2004, Sonia Gandhi sent 25 letters to Manmohan Singh. The number rose to 34 in 2005, fell marginally to 25 letters in 2006 but slumped to a mere eight letters in 2007. In 2008, Sonia Gandhi has sent just six letters to the Prime Minister's Office.

The letters show that it's not always the social sector that Sonia Gandhi is interested in. As the chairperson of the National Advisory Council, she was doing quite a bit of backseat driving when it came to her pet projects like NREGA and the Ganga Action Plan.

However, she also did try to influence policy on:

* Action for disaster management (letter written on 30.12.2004, PM forwarded letter to Ministry of Home Affairs)

* Financial implications of recommendations of the 2005-06 Budget (letter written 14.1.2005, PM forwardeded letter to Finance Minister)

* National Rehabilitation Policy (letter written on 30.5.2006, PM wrote a letter to the Ministry of Rural Development)

* Walmart's proposed entry into India (letter written on 11.1.2007, PM referred the letter to Department of Industrial Policy)

* Communal Crimes Bill, 2008 (letter written on 9.2.2008, PM forwarded the letter to Home Ministry)

Congress Spokesperson, Veerappa Moily admits the the day-to-day intervention is not done, but then hastily admits this is something which is not being done.

There has never been any doubt that the Government doesn't run from the Prime Minister's Office. Dr Manmohan Singh may be holding the gun, but it's Sonia Gandhi who pulls the trigger. The 98 letters bear testimony to the real power she enjoys.

(With inputs from Deepa Balakrishnan in Bangalore and Pallavi Ghosh in New Delhi)

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