Why has Sonia Gandhi stopped speaking at electoral rallies?
The first round of voting for the Gujarat assembly election was held on Thursday, with Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) leader Sonia Gandhi not campaigning for a single day. She is unlikely to canvass for her party’s candidates in the three days remaining before the state’s second phase of voting on December 5.
Sonia, who served as Congress president for the longest period in the party’s 136-year history, also did not campaign in Himachal Pradesh. On November 12, voters in the mountainous state went to the polls.
Her name appeared on the list of the Congress’s top campaigners in both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, with the first being party president Mallikarjun Kharge, who took over on October 26.
When she was Congress president, her name was at the top of the list of star campaigners in all previous elections. She has not, however, addressed an electoral rally in the previous five to six years.
On the condition of anonymity, a senior Congress functionary told TOI that Sonia had avoided speaking at public gatherings, notably election rallies.
She also did not speak at any electoral rallies for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. She only addressed the media on April 11, 2019, after filing candidacy papers from her Raebareli seat.
When asked why her name was included in the list of star campaigners, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stated, “Her name is added every time because of a ritual.” And the party gives her the option of speaking at election rallies or not.”
In reality, she last spoke at a public rally on December 14, 2019, at Ramlila Maidan in Delhi, over three years ago. Her party has organised the ‘Bharat Bachao (Save India) Rally.’
On the 25th death anniversary of her husband, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, she spoke at the ‘Hum Mein Hain Rajiv (Gandhi)’ rally in Delhi on May 21, 2016.
Sonia spoke at a rally in Thiruvananthapuram on May 10, 2016, criticising people who dubbed her a “foreigner.” “Yes, I was born in Italy,” she explained. I arrived in India in 1968 as Indira Gandhi’s daughter-in-law. I have lived in India for the past 48 years. This is my residence. This is my homeland. For the past 48 years, the RSS, BJP, and other parties have mocked and shamed me for my birth.”
This speech was made in part in reaction to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had made some anti-Congress statements during an electoral rally.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, you can continue to assault my integrity, but you cannot question my dedication and love for the nation,” Sonia stated. I cannot expect Prime Minister Narendra Modi to comprehend my emotions, but I am confident that the people of India can… The blood of my loved ones is mixed here in this land of India. The blood of my lover was shed here. I shall breathe my final breath here. My ashes will be mixed with those of my loved ones here.”
Sonia addressed the Loktantra Bachao (Save Democracy) Rally in Delhi on May 6, 2016, with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, before facing arrest.