................Of the stuff Sonia is made
> > It is Sonia Gandhi's latest gender gem: ''The day I > became the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi's house, I > became an Indian. The rest is all technical.'' By that > logic, one Louis de Raedt can be considered to have > had even better credentials to be regarded as an > Indian. >
> Monsieur Raedt, you see, held a Belgian passport but, > till his day of reckoning in 1987, he had been > continuously in India since... 1937! By an order of > the Government of India dated 8th July 1987, his > request for further stay in India was rejected and he > was ordered to leave the country. On an appeal against > this order, our Supreme Court ruled that Raedt had not > become a citizen of India and therefore had no right > "to reside and settle in India".
> > ''He must prove,'' said the court, ''that he had > formed the intention of making his permanent home in > the country of residence and of continuing to reside > there permanently. Residence, alone, unaccompanied by > the state of mind, is insufficient.'' Incidentally, > the ''secularists,'' the Vatican and the Vishwa Hindu > Parishad alike would be interested to learn that Louis > de Raedt was engaged in Christian missionary work.
> > In Sonia Gandhi's case, the above ''state of mind'' > was reached in 1983 -- some 15 years after her > marriage to Rajiv Gandhi. That would mean that when > she became a wife (in February 1968), when she became > a mother for the first time (in June 1970) and for the > second time (in January 1972) her state of mind was > not finalised; her mind obviously remained focussed on > Orbassano, a small north Italian village inhabited by > old-fashioned Catholics including her father Stephano > Maino.
> > And what was so special about 1983 that made Sonia > Gandhi firm up her state of mind on securing Indian > citizenship? According to Indira --- the authorised > biography of Indira Gandhi written by her close > associate, Pupul Jayakar --- the Gandhi bahu applied > for Indian citizenship only when a case was filed in > court by a ''family member'' to the effect that it was > improper to have a foreigner living permanently in the > prime minister's house. (No prize for guessing who > that ''family member'' was).
> > Sonia Gandhi was given ''acquired'' citizenship under > the Indian Citizenship Act 1955. Whether that too was > rightly given has been recently questioned. What is > not in doubt is that she was not given citizenship > under Article 5 of the Constitution that relates to > those who were born in India or who have parents > either of whom was born in India or who were > ordinarily resident in India for at least five years > immediately preceding the commencement of the Indian > Constitution.
> > As per his writ petition recently admitted by the > Delhi high court, the legal luminary, P N Lekhi has > argued that only a citizen of India under Article 5 > can contest an elective office in our country. It is > Lekhi's contention that a person who has acquired > citizenship under the above 1955 Act is entitled to > vote, to be an 'elector', but only a citizen under > Article 5 is eligible to contest for an elective post. > If the courts uphold this view, Sonia Gandhi's goose > will be cooked forever, and the Congress will have to > depend on the brother-sister combo of the dynasty to > come to power. >
> Ah, the dynasty! Sonia Gandhi wants us to believe that > because her grandfather-in-law, her mother-in-law and > her husband were all prime ministers of India, she too > has the divine right to that position. And she has > warned us that we do not know the stuff she is made > of. >
> Well, we do know what stuff, genes and all, are > stuffed in her. There's her father, first and > foremost, who was reportedly a member of Benito > Mussolini's Fascist party that joined hands with Adolf > Hitler. According to an article published in the > magazine Voice of Jammu Kashmir, Stephano Maino was > among those who used to round up leftists and force > feed them with bottles of castor oil; later, Maino > rose in the ranks and was sent to the eastern front to > fight the Russians. (Jyoti Basu may please note before > deciding to support Ms Gandhi in the future).
> > A fall-out of that fascist trait has certainly > descended into the stuff called Sonia Gandhi. Her lie > to the President in April last that she had the > support of 272 members of Parliament, the melodrama > she enacted after Pawar & Co questioned her > citizenship status, and her effort to con the whole > country into believing that she was going to contest > the election from Cuddapah --- these are palpable > examples of the stuff she is made of, of how > authoritarian she is, of how much she is at ease with > falsehood. >
> About her feelings for women and for Indians, there > was that magazine article three months ago by Harsha > Oza, wife of an ambassador of ours. Deputed by her > husband to escort and accompany Sonia Gandhi on a > visit to Stockholm in January 1988, Oza's article > narrates the humiliation she had to suffer from > Madam's insolence and insouciance, including being > left stranded on the tarmac in freezing cold and being > denied any ''hello'' or good bye. After seeing Sonia > Gandhi talking, laughing loudly and jabbering away in > Spanish with the wife of the Mexican president > attending the official banquet, Oza came to the > conclusion that ''although she (Sonia) enjoyed the > trappings of power which went with being the Indian > prime minister's wife, she could not relate > comfortably to Indians.... Although she had made India > her home, her heart was not in India and she would be > better off being in the land of her birth and the > environment of her upbringing.'' >
> Then there's Sonia's duplicity. She seeks our > acceptance by constantly appealing to our vast > illiterate and emotional people in the idiom of the > female gender, representing herself as bahu, beti, maa > and vidhwa. She also made a big show early last year > in support of the women's reservation legislation by > leading a delegation of her gender to the Lok Sabha > portals. >
> However, after the Yadavs snatched the Bill from the > Speaker and the people realised how helpless the > Vajpayee government was in the face of such political > behaviour, Sonia Gandhi, instead of coming to the > government's help in introducing a landmark > legislation for India's women, started proclaiming > that it was the government's job to secure consensus > on the issue. It was as transparent as her father's > fascist trait that Sonia Gandhi was not interested in > the women's reservation law per se, but only insofar > as it brought laurels to her and her alone. >
> The latest stuff about her as a person and her > political interest comes in columnist Tavleen Singh's > recently published book entitled Lollipop Street. In > the years that she claims to have known Sonia Gandhi > rather well, the author writes 'with Sonia all > conversations were inclined to be about trivia. Other > people, clothes, holidays, children. When it came to > politics, she was completely contemptuous of anything > to do with the subject... her only contribution to > political comment usually was to talk about some > leader whom she disliked. She knew nothing about the > issues fundamental to politics in India; nor did she > make any effort to learn them. Her social awareness > did not extend beyond the drawing rooms of Delhi till > Rajiv Gandhi was killed.' And here's Tavleen Singh's > knockout punch: 'I knew that she had never shown any > inclination to do anything that would bind her to > India in any way.' And to think that this is the > person whom the Congress is thrusting on the nation as > their one and only leader!
> > But she must be street smart and ambitious all right. > Imagine a non-descript girl from a small Italian > village going to Cambridge and enticing an Indian > prince of Wales while working --- as a paid domestic > with an English family, say some, and as a restaurant > waitress, say others. Imagine the force of the inner > drive to become India's prime minister by lying to the > head of State and without facing a solitary press > conference or making an extempore speech in public. >
> Imagine too the cunning she showed after her husband's > demise in starting the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and > grabbing for it the land allotted to the Congress > party for its national headquarters. Today, madam > reigns over the massive and magnificent building of > the Foundation while no one in the Congress has the > spine to stake claim to it. Even Vajpayee has > shockingly not asked the Congress as to why the land > allotted to the political party was allowed to go over > to a third party.
> > Incidentally, it was the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to > which the ''clean'' and ''gentlemanly'' Manmohan Singh > allocated one billion rupees in his very first Budget > that was presented, remember, even as part of the > nation's gold lay mortgaged abroad. >
> Sonia Gandhi's real coup, however, has been the > stranglehold she has obtained over the wealthiest > cultural institution of the country, having a corpus > of one billion rupees and 21 acres of prime land in > New Delhi valued at 50 billion rupees. How she did > that in gross violation of the law and in utter > disregard of public accountability is set out in > Sandhya Jain's article in The Pioneer of June 22, > 1999. Below is Ms Jain's case in short: >
> * The Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts was set > up by a Cabinet decision as an autonomous public trust > in March 1987 to promote the preservation and > integrated development of all the arts. Its president > was the prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi; There were six > other trustees. >
> * IGNA's original trust deed stipulated a 10-year term > for the trustees, with one third retiring in 1997 and > the government filling the vacancies. The President of > India, as Visitor, could appoint a Review Committee to > scrutinise its functions. This Committee's > recommendations were binding. Because the government > had given it a corpus of over half a billion rupees, > the Comptroller & Auditor General of the country was > to audit its accounts. >
> * When Rajiv Gandhi died in 1991, Sonia Gandhi was > allowed to replace him as president of the board of > trustees though she had no official status or public > stature. >
> * In the midsummer of 1995, when a Congress defeat in > the general election of the coming year could be > foreseen, the six supremo trustees effected radical > changes to the trust deed. ''Private citizen'' Sonia > Gandhi became lifetime president while the others > became lifetime trustees. The government was deprived > of the right to appoint the member-secretary, and the > right of the Visitor (President of India) to appoint a > review committee was denied. The trustees also assumed > the right to appoint more ''co-opted'' members, while > the government of India's human resources development > minister was reduced from ex-officio chairman to > ex-officio member. >
> * The above sweeping changes were in violation of > Article 24 of the original trust deed under which all > amendments required the ''prior written approval'' of > the government. Indeed, that stipulation itself was > not included in the amended deed. >
> * The then HRD minister, Madhavrao Scindia, (a trusted > lieutenant of Sonia Gandhi to this day), approved the > new deed within a fortnight of the trustees' meeting, > and did so without reference to the Cabinet, or even > the law and finance ministries.
> > * Both, the amendment and the approval, were kept > secret until February 1996 when IGNCA approached the > Centre to enhance the capital cost of the building and > had to produce the amended deed with its application > for financial enhancement.
> > * As a bewildered government sought legal remedies, > the attorney general opined that the amendments were, > in sum, legally invalid. Despite the government twice > conveying the legal position to the Trust, it has not > received even a reply. It remains to be seen what the > Trust's response is to the Centre's directive to the > CAG to undertake the audit that had not been allowed > by the Trust since 1994. >
> Meanwhile, let it be noted that during the seventh and > eighth Plans, the IGNCA received Rs 84.30 million from > the government of which, it is not clear, how much has > been spent and how much there is in the Personal > Ledger Account. But charge Sonia Gandhi with using > public money to create a personal fiefdom, and she is > likely to say that in a democracy you have to trust > people, especially the dynasty; the rest is all > technical. >
> Tailpiece: One of the ''co-opted'' members inducted > into the IGNCA by the coup of 1995 was that ''clean'' > and gentlemanly ''man of integrity'' who, while being > a pucca Delhiite, had become a member of the Rajya > Sabha on the ground of being ''ordinarily a resident > of Assam.'' His name is Manmohan Singh.
> .............................................. Arvind Lavakare
The nation ought to be most grateful to the learned author of the above report.