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What Sonia Gandhi could learn from Queen Elizabeth II

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There are some uncanny similarities between Sonia Gandhi, interim president of the Indian National Congress, and Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, Queen of the United Kingdom.

Both are unifying matriarchs of long-running dynasties. Both have helped their dynasties survive difficult times. Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-serving British monarch, while Sonia Gandhi has been the longest-serving Congress president. Both have heir apparent who aren’t particularly popular.

The most striking similarity is how both keep themselves aloof from the public. We hear very little from them, and see them more as ceremonious symbols. This makes sure that they are above reproach. Both wear a neutral expression on their faces; you can’t tell what they are thinking or feeling. They don’t put out their real personalities. If you don’t know who they are, there’s no scope of liking or disliking them.

It’s incredible how little criticism Sonia Gandhi receives from anyone even though she has presided over the terminal decline of her party. In virtually no state has the Congress revived itself under her leadership. Yet, all the blame goes to her son Rahul Gandhi, who became the public face of the party. Sonia is the one who cannot be named, leave alone blamed.

Sonia Gandhi, like the English Queen, is an extremely private public figure (the oxymoron spells out the problem). The Nehru-Gandhi family, like the British monarchy, is good at surviving against all odds. No matter how many elections the Congress loses, the Nehru-Gandhis cannot be removed. Monarchies, even constitutional ones, are an anachronism in today’s world. Across Europe, they were abolished by either revolution or democracy. But the British monarchy survived. Both the British monarchy and the Nehru-Gandhi family don’t think of the immediate; they think of the long-term survival of their dynasties.

But there are two key differences. First, the British monarchy is not just surviving, it’s popular too. Both the Nehru-Gandhi and the Windsor dynasties are seen as........

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