'Sonia to pen book on turning down PM-ship'

'Sonia to pen book on turning down PM-ship'

Stating that she is often asked why she turned down the top job, Gandhi told a visiting US dignitary in New Delhi in 2006 that "I am often asked about this, but tell people that I will write a book someday with the whole story," according to a secret US cable releasd by WikiLeaks.

The 2006 cable details Gandhi's meeting with Maria Shriver, the First Lady of California and wife of Governor Arnold Shwarznegger. It is is titled 'A Garrulous Sonia Gandhi Opens Up to Maria Shriver'.

Reporting the meeting, the cable says about Gandhi: "She would only say that she 'felt better' that someone else became PM and 'did not regret' her decision." "Shriver congratulated Mrs Gandhi for her resoluteness and described her as 'courageous.'"

The cable adds: "She (Gandhi) elaborated, at Karan Singh's insistence, saying that she was under lots of pressure, as the 'party workers' were 'very upset.' They 'could not understand' why she, as party President, was not taking up the post, since they had voted for her and won a majority."

Describing what appeared to be a very cordial meeting, the cable says Gandhi opened up and "revealed a rare glimpse of herself. "Usually withdrawn and reserved in public, she spoke at great length and radiated confidence on women's issues and some aspects of her private life".

It was the rise of the BJP and right-wing politics that "compelled" her to enter politics, despite much reluctance, according to the cable. The cable says: "In a candid revelation of her personal political stance, Mrs Gandhi stated that 'the right (wing) was becoming strong in India and Congress weak,' tipping her hand and 'compelling' her to enter politics to protect the Gandhi family legacy.

"She also revealed that her children were 'not keen' about the idea, but eventually told her, 'whatever you decide, we will back you.'"

Gandhi, the cable says, revealed that her parents objected to her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi and she "resented their position" and went ahead and married him anyway.
She also noted that she felt that her gender has never been an issue in her political life and that Indira Gandhi also made the same observation.

As the discussion moved on to population control, the cable says: "Mrs Gandhi pointed out that 'population control' is a political taboo in India after Indira Gandhi was voted out of office over this issue. "Although she insisted allegations of forced vasectomies and other abuses were 'highly exaggerated' and 'politically motivated,' the historical memory has forced the UPA to focus on raising awareness and providing basic health services and means that progress on reducing the birth rate will be 'slow.'"

Gandhi, the cable says, then provided personal insights into her life, saying that she travels constantly all over India, often to remote areas to visit the common people, as "it is only by going out and interacting with people that we are in a better position to understand their problems and determine what they want."

Whle discussing relations between India and US, the cable reports: "Mrs Gandhi jokingly pointed out that the 'Indian Left is anti-American,' but then agreed that its stance was aimed at 'American policy' rather than the American people... Mrs Gandhi also pointed out that many Indian Muslims "resent certain policies of the US."

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