Sonia's NAC agenda

Her return to the body signals aam aadmi is under focus again


Ajay Singh | March 30, 2010

The Congress seems to have developed into a fine art the difficult practice of running two power centres. Ever since the party came back to power in 2004, there was hardly any doubt that Sonia Gandhi is the political boss but there came a time, especially during the nuclear deal and the first few months of UPA2 when it seemed like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a mind of his own, too.

Initially there was a lot of skepticism about the efficacy of this duality of power centres. But, after six years in governance, it can be safely surmised that the party has learnt to deal with this duality dexterously. This is the precise reason why Sonia Gandhi's re-appointment as chairperson of the National Advisory Council (NAC) will not raise much heat and dust.

In her earlier role as NAC chairperson which bestows on her cabinet status, Gandhi influenced the government’s policies in a major way. She can be justifiably credited with prompting the government to take concrete social initiatives and bringing in the Right to Information Act to ensure transparency in governance.

It was the NAC that also came up with NREGA as the ultimate flagship programme for poverty eradication. The success of the Congress in 2009 elections was largely attributed to  successful implementation of this programme.

As of now, Gandhi’s reappointment as NAC chief (she had to quit earlier because of the office-of-profit problem which has since been taken care of) is just a technicality. Her overweening influence over the government was evident when she virtually pushed the agenda of the women’s reservation bill in spite of skepticism in some quarters. Her return as NAC head only implies that she is willing to play a proactive role in formulating and shaping the policies of governance. In her status as cabinet minister, she will be entitled to get access to government files and suggest measures which will be in consonance with her politics.

If at all there is some element of surprise, it is about why she chose to come back now. But even that is explained easily. Her party and government have come under for persistent attack of late for having abandoned the "aad aadmi" agenda. It is perhaps Gandhi's message to her political constituency that now that she is back, her social agenda will be back too.



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