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Sonia as Prime Minister? It is preposterous - The Times of India

M Gautham Machaiah ()
February 26, 1998

Title: Sonia as Prime Minister? It is preposterous
Author: M Gautham Machaiah
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 26, 1998

he very idea of making Sonia Gandhi the Prime Minister is
preposterous. If somebody wants to make her the Prime Minister
because she is her mother-in-law's daughter-in-law or her
husband's wife, then it is meaningless," says senior statesman S

Age does not seem to have dampened his spirits and at 97 years
the former Congress president continues to remain sharp and
buoyant. Even at this advanced age; Mr Nijalingappa undertakes
extensive tours to realise his dream of uniting all old
Congressmen. And when he is not on the move, he spends his time
reading newspapers in the verandah of his modest home in
Chitradurga. To this day, he loves to pour scorn on Jawaharlal
Nehru, while his attitude towards Indira Gandhi seems to have
softened a bit. "She was no doubt a beautiful woman," he says
with a twinkle in the eye. Excerpts from an interview by M
Gautham Machaiah:

Q: What do you think of Sonia Gandhi as the next Prime Minister?

A: The Congress seems to be getting a bit better because of
Sonia. She seems to have made some impression. But a very big
impression has been made by Atal Behari Vajpayee. We cannot have
Sonia as the Prime Minister just because she is a relative of the
Nehru family. The proposition itself looks funny. I am not
against Sonia because she is a foreigner, but because she is
unknown in the country. I do not know anything about her. The
people do not know anything about her. What has she done for the
country that she deserves to become the Prime Minister? What are
her plans and objectives for the country? I do not think she
knows much about India, though I am told she reads newspapers.
But of late I feel she has developed a weakness for fame.

But is it not true that the people still revere the Nehru family?

We are a funny bunch of people. We still believe in the dictum
'Raja pratyaksha devata'. There is no reason why Indians should
worship the Nehru family. I do not think the country has gained
much from the family. Nehru did nothing for rural India, though
the country became known to the outside world during his time. In
fact, Nehru did not deserve to be the Prime Minister; Sardar
Patel would have been a much better choice.

What do the elections hold for the country?

I do not think any party will get a workable majority. Possibly,
the BJP may get secure a larger number of seats than others. But
today BJP is not what it was. Several people have joined it from
other parties. So I do not know where BJP stands today. I feel
that the best bet for the country is a United Front government.
But it is doubtful if the UF will succeed in the elections. I
wish it would. The atmosphere is so bad today that after the
elections everybody will go with everybody. The only objective is
power. I do not expect much after the elections. There is no
party that we can be sure of

Who according to you will make the best Prime Minister?

I cannot name anybody. If you give me some names, may be I can
choose one.

Vajpayee, Gujral, Deve Gowda, Madhavrao Scindia, Sonia Gandhi.

Well, I do not want to hazard a guess.

What about former Prime Ministers, who was the best?

Lal Bahadur Shastri and Morarji Desai. Rajiv Gandhi also did
something for the country.

And Indira Gandhi?

Indira did not become Prime Minister because she was Nehru's
daughter. She was selected by five senior Congress leaders
including me. Though Nehru was tottering, he did not want to give
up his post. It was then that we met to find a successor. We
shortlisted Shastri and Morarji. But we decided to drop Morarji
because he was self-opinionated and unamenable. Even God could
not change his mind.

After Shastri died, we selected Indira and Morarji. But Morarji
was dropped again for the same reason. Indira was selected
because she knew about India. She had more common sense than her
father. She was allright for some time. But she served India the
worst, because for her corruption became a way of life. But when
she was killed I had tears in my eyes. She was a small built
woman, frail and thin, and of course beautiful. How could anybody
have the heart to pump hundreds of bullets into her?

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