An Indian First, A Prime Minister Later

The massive brouhaha over Sonia Gandhi's citizenship and her prime ministerial ambitions have dotted the Indian political landscape for quite a while now. Since 18th May, 2004, when Ms.Gandhi 'sacrificed' the coveted post, a number of conspiracy theories have been triggered, each one of them, more fascinating than the other. It is quite another matter that none of these explanations hold any more ground than the stories of Uncle Scrooge or Alladin.

The first rooster to have cried hoarse was the BJP led NDA. Each one of its constituents, was shocked when they were informed that the 2004 general elections had mandated Ms. Gandhi to lead the country. It was apparently a direct attack on their 'Right to rule'. How could a woman with foreign roots be placed at the helm of affairs? How could India be foolish enough to disregard the experience of Mr.Advani and push for a dynastic novice? In other words, how could the 6 year stint of BJP in the government have failed and been nullified by the Indian voters in one go? Instead of introspecting and asking themselves whether India was really shining, they set out, lock, stock and barrel, to have Ms. Gandhi barred from holding the Prime Ministerial post. Letters were written, e-mails were sent, petitions were filed and dire threats were issued. Ms. Swaraj, the current Leader of opposition, displayed her histrionics in full bloom and declared that she would have her head shaved if Ms.Gandhi ever donned the mantle of the chief executive. However, there was one thing they failed to realize. Sonia Gandhi never really harbored Prime Ministerial ambitions. Had the BJP sat through the crisis and cast a cursory look at the past fifteen years, the party would surely have realized its follies.

When Ms. Indira Gandhi was brutally shot dead in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi was made the Prime Minister overnight. Some called it the 'Continuance of dynasty' while others referred to it as 'A Gandhian coup'. Never was it realized that there is a tiny little entity which still guided the country. The entity that desired an immediate election of a new head of government by mutual consensus. The entity that we casually call 'Constitution' today. As Indira Gandhi lay dying on the hospital bed, Sonia Gandhi is said to have hugged her husband tight and asked him to not be the Prime Minister. She stated "They'll kill you, Rajiv", to which Mr. Gandhi responded, "They'll kill me anyway". And while Ms.Gandhi was locked up in a washroom, Mr.Gandhi went on to be administered the oath of office and secrecy.

It just took 7 years for Ms.Gandhi's nightmare to come true. Her husband of 23 years was assassinated. His body was ripped to pieces and it almost became impossible to identify which part belonged to Mr.Gandhi in the ocean of human flesh. This incident proved to be the nail on the coffin. The entire Gandhi clan gave up its association with national politics and reclined to the nitty-gritty of life. The situation remained grim for the Congress party till 1998, when Ms.Gandhi was forced out of oblivion and was persuaded to take on the reins of a frail INC. The rest, of course, is history. For a woman who has had her husband and her mother-in-law, eschewed at the altar of Prime Ministership, would donning the same hat be a reasonable solution? Insiders, within and outside the party, concede that even when she entered politics in '98, her mind was very clear about such a situation, if it ever arose- She would NOT accept the post.

A few years passed with UPA I marching ahead in glory but as UPA II came into power, the build up frustration of the opposition began to find other vents. This is not to suggest that the current regime is saintly. It most certainly is not. It has mismanaged, mishandled and misconducted its affairs. Yet, at the same time, it has been misconstrued and misinterpreted. The activities of a few black sheep have tainted the entire administration. To an extent, the hypocrisy is mind boggling. When a few cricketers are caught neck deep in the scourge of match fixing and midnight brawls, do we take away the iconic status of the likes of Tendulkar and brand all cricketers inefficient and corrupt?

Nonetheless, this is where the second rooster began to cry foul. India's very own Julian Assange, with the only difference that Mr. Assange runs Wiki-leaks while Mr.Subraminam Swamy runs Pant-Leaks. The eternal conspiracy theorist claimed that 'Vishkanya' (a reference to Ms.Gandhi) had not 'sacrificed' while giving up the PM's post, she was actually 'barred' by Dr.Kalam to accept it. The reasoning, if it can even be called that, sounds ridiculously funny as it neither rests on facts, nor logic. And this is primarily owing to two major reasons-

First, the Constitution of India in its Part 2, Article 5, candidly declares that any person who has been a resident of the territory of India for at least 5 years, shall be considered to be an Indian citizen. To give effect to this article, Citizenship Act, 1955 was enacted. This act clearly states that a person would be considered to be a citizen of India by means of Birth, descent, registration, Naturalization and incorporation of territory. While Ms.Gandhi is a citizen of India by means of both 'Registration' and 'Naturalization', her children are a citizen of India by virtue of their birth!

Secondly, the Supreme court of India, the highest law-upholding authority of the land, dismissed a petition in 2001 that challenged Ms.Gandhi's nationality. Here are a few details from the court orders-
"It must be held that Sonia Gandhi by virtue of the certificate granted to her under section 5(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act, which has not been cancelled, withdrawn or annulled till date, is 'a citizen of India'"
"Making vague and bald allegations, without giving any material facts, after losing the elections, go to show that even proper care was not taken before filing the petitions by gathering and stating all material facts"
"There is no overt act relating to adherence and allegiance after the grant of citizenship to Sonia Gandhi, even alleged, let alone supported, through any material facts"

If these details are not evidence enough, Dr.Kalam, in his recently released biographical work has himself stated that had Ms.Gandhi staked the claim for Prime Ministership in 2004, he would have had no option but to appoint her as this was the only 'constitutionally tenable' position.

At times, I am surprised at the level of debate that is happening in this country today. We are debating the roots of an Indian woman. We are debating why she did not become the Prime Minister. We are speculating about what could have been the reason. And all of this, while real problems coupled with a murderous past stare us in the face. For example, why has nobody asked the BJP leadership as to why they wanted Mr.Kalam to drop the idea of visiting Gujarat after the Godhara riots? Were they trying to hide something or were they scared that Dr.Kalam would unabashedly speak the truth?

Whatever, may have been the reason, it is time we put to rest the 'Sonia PM' episode (sic, as it trends on Twitter). Let us just remain content with the fact that the Leader of opposition still has her hair.


  1. Whatever you say Akil, Sonia Gandhi and her government has proved to be totally incompetent, as judged by the number of scams and corrupt ministers and the lack of control over things going wrong. Rupee is down, Market is down, things getting costlier everyday. Moreover, we have a mute prime minister who works 9 to 9 like a workaholic govt clerk, but does NOT give any result, does NOT say anything in any matter, does NOT say when scams are revealed, does NOT do anything to proactively root out corruption, does not do anything to proactively make life better. In such a large country, we need an active, young, dynamic, and gogetter prime minister. And whatever her personal loss, Sonia Gandhi has not shown any governance capabilities, so I do not feel any sympathy and her incompetence or inactive governance cannot be condoned.

  2. I do side by you at that. UPA II has been a victim of maladministration, largely bred by their own doings. Nevertheless, the point here is not to absolve the Prime Minister or the Congress chairperson of their accountability. The point is to emphasize that an issue like citizenship, which is almost insignificant in today's day, is largely being relied upon to malign personal characters. Like I said, we do have better problems to grapple with.

  3. well Akil if citizenship and name doesn't really matter why don't they give up Italian citizenship and Gandhi sirname.. why is it that Robert Vadera is exempted for security checks at airport.. Afterall what is in the name??????

  4. There are reasons for that Rags. #1. The Citizenship Act that I talked about, also has a criterion for holding 'dual citizenship', as amended in 1986. There are 16 specific countries whose citizenship can be held alongwith the citizenship of India and Italy is one of them. #2. It is only Ms.Gandhi who has a dual citizenship and Not her children. They are simply not eligible to be called Italian nationals. Moreover, more than 40 lakh people in this country have a dual citizenship status too. So, she is not the only one. #3. Indira Nehru got married to Feroze Gandhi and hence became Indira Gandhi. Why shouldn't her sons and daughter in law use the same surname? #4About Robert Vadra, again, there is a list with the security personnel of people who should be exempt. So is Mr.Advani's daughter Pratibha! The point is, we must not start character assassinations solely on the basis of some false information.

  5. Well written Akil. But to correct you Sonia does not have dual citizenship. She surrendered her Italian citizenship on April 27, 1983. Source :

  6. Thank you Jai. And thanks for the correction. I wasn't aware of this one. :)

  7. Nope! Your reason No.: 1 has a serious flaw in it. You are here referring to the Indian Citizenship act 1955, Sec 2, sub section 1 (gg). That act (which by the way, was repealed and it stands omitted according to the CITIZENSHIP (AMENDMENT) BILL, 2005) was primarily used to describe the definition of an 'Overseas Citizen of India'. It clearly mentions that such a citizen is not allowed to vote or contest an election in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha.
    India does NOT allow Dual citizenship, no matter what!
    Request you to research your 'facts' before putting it up blatantly.
    Here are the requisite links for the Acts I mentioned.
    Good Day!

    Indian Citizenship Act, 1955:


  8. Dr Swamy was always been a con man and that's why even the more decent and tall leaders of BJP also distance themselves from him. Dr Swamy had unleashed the most malicious attack on Sonia Gandhi for reasons well known to anyone who has been following Indian politics, at least since 1999. His theory of Sonia being asked by Prez Kalam, not to come to take oath as the PM, on the basis of legal issues raised by him are the most bizarre and illogical and impractical of political theories. Gist of his theory is that Sonia was not legally eligible to be the PM of the country on the basis of her Indian citizenship, which incidently was not by birth.

    India elects its PM from elected members of its Parliament either LokSabha or RajyaSabha.If Dr Swamy's claim is true, how was she allowed to be an MP in the first place? For argument sake, consider a situation in which all our MPs have the same status as that of Sonia Gandhi.Are we going to end with a situation in which none of our MPs are eligible to be the PM of the country? Remember, Parliament or Legislature is supreme and can enact any law and in any which way they want. So to be a member of our parliament, one needs to fulfill all the legal qualifiations, as required to be the PM of the country. So, a common man like yours truly will easily conclude that Dr Swamy's argument doesnt hold much water. Next set of argument by Dr Swamy is even more bizarre and impractial in Indian politics. According to him Prez Kalam decided to cancel the inviation to Sonia because he warned the Prez that her appointment 'can' be challenged in the court.So what? So what if somebody challenge an appointment in our great Country. It happens every other day. No court in our country can do anything to our Prez. I can not think of any Indian politician or statesman chickening out of a decision just because somebody threaten him/her with a court case.

    On a ligher note, I would like to know at what time Dr Swamy usually have his lunch? On innumerable videos,still available at YouTube,he mentioned that he received the call from President's office just as he sat down for his lunch. In some videos he explains the situation very dramatically also. From what he had said in the last few days, one can gather that he actually met Prez Kalam at 12.30PM. In my humble opinion only loafers will have their lunch before 12.30PM and I do not think DrSwamy is one such person. In short, he will add bit of drama to everything to entertain a foolish following he carry with him.

  9. Babu: Reason number 1, constitutionally, is tenable. THe Citizenship Act 1955 was not repealed, but amended. Plus, she is a citizen of India by registration and Naturalization, the OCI category is not applicable here. If you had read the previous comments, you'd know that she gave up her dual citizenship much before this act was passed. Let us read the things in a wider context, before jumping to confined interpretations.

    1. My comment was sorely in reply to your comment above in which you detailed the reasons you gave 'Rags'. In that you have mentioned, "...#1. The Citizenship Act that I talked about, also has a criterion for holding 'dual citizenship', as amended in 1986. There are 16 specific countries whose citizenship can be held alongwith the citizenship of India and Italy is one of them."
      This statement is absolutely false and does not add up with the facts. I repeat, our constitution does not provide for a Dual Citizenship of any kind, period!
      Secondly, I did not argue the legality of the citizenship of Mrs. Gandhi as in that I understand that she can be a legal citizen of India by virtue of Registration but then she will have to surrender her Italian Passport. When I wrote that comment, the comment from 'Jai' wasn't visible and hence wasn't taken into account. In fact, you were unaware of that fact yourself and were blatantly justifying her presumed 'Dual Citizenship'. That is what I meant by research before posting. It is obvious that you are heavily biased and that makes it a tad difficult for any objective reader to accept everything you've written.
      Also, I have clearly mentioned that only the line in section 2, sub section 1 (gg) was repealed and nowhere did I say that the entire Citizenship Act 1955 was repealed or otherwise cancelled.
      Jumping to 'confined interpretations' now, are we?

    2. Yes, we still are. Let me look for the link and place it here for you. The citizenship Act I mentioned and the 'dual citizenship' part exists. I may have got the years wrong, but the tenability of it is factual and concrete. Wherever I have been told that the details were incorrect, I have corrected myself. Nevertheless, the final point of the write up is merely this- Ms.Gandhi is pretty much a citizen :).

    3. dual citizenship does exists.. In Pondicherry there are around 8000 votes for french election... and they are Indians with dual citizenship... Mr babu

  10. Well written.

    Whatever beliefs one may entertain as regards allegations of corruption against her or whatever may be our personal views as regards a person of foreign origin becoming our PM and whatever may be our personal political views, a credit that can never be taken away from Sonia Gandhi is that she indeed "sacrificed" the post of PM and that is unparalleled.

    Further, the fact that Sonia Gandhi made this "sacrifice" needs no corroboration from any book or memoir. Basic knowledge of constitutional law or for that matter basic common sense would tell us that if she indeed wanted to become PM, no President could have stopped that without risking a subsequent impeachment.


  12. Thank you Anirban. That was the essence of the write up.

  13. i think there are more important issues that needs to be discussed ... write articles on more relevant issues... discussing it is a waste of time

  14. Hi! Its great to know you found ample time to read an irrelevant article :). Nevertheless, Democracy is known to function by discussions.

  15. well Akil could u tell me if Indira married to Feroze Gandhi or Feroze "Ghandy", how was Feroze a Gandhi?#2 Would u deny the fact that a swiss magazine revealed the name of Rajiv Gandhi as a swiss bank account hoalder?

  16. No. There is no denying the fact that Indira married Feroze Jahangir Ghandy. But I wonder how is that relevant. I can spell my name the way I like! Secondly, the magazine you talk of made a 'presumption'. They did not have actual facts- apart from the bank, No one does. The point here is not to debate the good and bads of Congress. The point is to settle an issue which bears no consequence whatsoever.

  17. well Akil would u tell me if Indira married to Feroze gandhi or "Ghandy", its completely ironical of Feroze being a Gandhi.#2 do u deny the fact that Rajiv held swiss bank accounts and now Sonia is holding them?

  18. If you read the above comment, I said she married Feroze Ghandy! With time, the pronunciation and use changed. And Yes, I can deny the fact that Rajiv or Sonia hold any accounts in Swiss Bank. Get me evidence- Not some fake internet circulated paper. But Hard strong evidence.

  19. ashish .... is ur surname really swadeshi ????

  20. I am sure if there can be a Sushma 'Swaraj', there can be a Ashish 'Swadeshi' too :)

  21. Very well written. People,need to get their facts right,before targeting The Gandhi family, all over social media. Be it facebook,twitter,etc. That's what really annoys me. They don't have a coherent reason, and still keep on abusing and attacking the family. And, when, you try to correct them, they become intransigent. We should appreciate whatever, work they have done rather than criticizing all the time.
    Wish, to read a lot more. Keep up the good work. :)
    Cheers !

  22. Thank you Abhinav. I totally agree to that. People, in the name of corruption, have begun serious character assassinations which hold no ground. I wonder where, we, as citizenry are going.

  23. Dear Babu, Dont get so much emotional during an online discussion "our constitution does not provide for a Dual Citizenship of any kind, period!".On what basis you are making such a statement? I will suggest a simple exercise to cool down your tempers. Pick up few good English Newspapers covering the Pravas Bharaiya Divas celebrations for the last 3-4 years. This annoucement about dual citizenship for PIOs of certain countries were made in one of these celebrations only.Most probably 2009 or 2010.

  24. Very nicely drafted post, an answer to all filth and lies being spread about Mrs. Sonia Gandhi on various social sites.


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