Sonia called shots, anointed loyal technocrat as PM: Maira

Sonia called shots, anointed loyal technocrat as PM: Maira

New book laments the dynastic structure of the Congress

Sonia called shots, anointed loyal technocrat as PM: Maira

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has once again come in for criticism for her role in the UPA government’s “all important appointments and policies” even though she refused to take on the mantle of prime ministership and appointed a “loyal technocrat”.

After Sanjaya Baru, former media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, it was the turn of Planning Commission member Arun Maira to point a finger at the “autocratic and dynastic” structure of the Congress party.

Baru’s book had alleged that “important files” were shown to Gandhi. In Maira’s new book “Redesigning the Aeroplane while Flying: Reforming Institutions” that was released on Tuesday, he talks about the “urgent” need for reforming institutions and says that it is as “risky” as redesigning a plane while on flight.


He says that the ruling Congress has become “less democratic and more centralised” after 1948 when Mahatma Gandhi called a meeting of leaders to redesign the path of the party. Maira writes that the process of centralisation in the Congress started with Indira Gandhi and with her ascent to power, the party set towards becoming a dynasty.

“Following her, her son Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister. Then her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi, became the president of the Congress. Sonia Gandhi chose not to become prime minister when she led the party to a stunning victory in the national elections in 2004,” he writes.

“Instead, she anointed a loyal technocrat, Manmohan Singh, as the Prime Minister while she has called the shots on all important appointments and policies. Now her son, Rahul Gandhi, is being called upon to do his dynastic duty and lead the Congress party,” Maira says.

He finds it unfortunate that “many other” parties have also adopted “similar autocratic and dynastic structures”. Maira goes on to say that after Independence, “monarchical political parties” have replaced British monarchy.

“The inability of India’s institutions of governance to change adequately has resulted in the growing decline of citizens’ trust in them,” he says.

Though he describes Singh as a “loyal technocrat” of Sonia, the writer thanks the Prime Minister, saying, “he (Singh) took the risk of bringing me into the Planning Commission, even though I was not an economist, had never held any public position, and was not close to the ruling political formulation.”

Referring to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he said the different capabilities required for a movement, party and then a government were highlighted in 2012, when AAP was “unexpectedly” called upon to form government. It lasted less than 50 days.

Recalling a meeting he had with AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, he said the former chief minister admitted that the structures for managing movements, parties and governments are “inherently different”.