Amid all the euphoria over Rahul Gandhi's anointment as President of the Grand Old Party of India, Sonia Gandhi has gently announced her retirement from active politics. Of course, there is an immediate attempt from the Congress party to "set matters right.
Both her age and health would not permit her to do so. Another sublime reason for her not being 'active' would be that she would definitely prefer to remain behind the scenes so that the party falls in line quickly and appreciates Rahul Gandhi's leadership. She knows her party better than anyone else.
She knows that her 'looking active' would not be in the interests of neither the party nor Rahul Gandhi as no message should go to the cadres that her office is another power centre. And so, it would be just 10, Janpath which at best would be a career guidance centre for a single pupil, Rahul Gandhi.
Herein lies the litmus test for Rahul Gandhi now. He has to pursue his engagements energetically and rev up his party leaders and cadres to take on the Modi-Shah juggernaut.
A clean win in Gujarat would have placed him at an advantageous position vis-a-vis the Opposition in dealing with the petulant regional party heads easily. If one were to go by the Exit Polls, that advantage seems to elude him. This should make him learn lessons from his mother far more.
Sonia Gandhi never allowed her party priorities to overlap in the equation with allies. It was rather an inclusive policy with a considerate approach that dominated her leadership both in the Parliament and outside.
When she was asked, during the turmoil over the Women's Quota Bill, whether she would be able to save the Bill with Lalu and Mulayam opposing it, she preferred not to comment negatively against them.
All that she said was she understood their problems and compulsions and preferred to be generous and learn to think of the larger picture. She also refused to be upset with Mamata's opposition to the same despite her earlier approval. Patience is a virtue and Sonia Gandhi had tonnes of it.
Rahul would do well to emulate her under such circumstances. The 12th century theologian and author, John of Salisbury, said once: "We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants.
We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.” If Rahul Gandhi learns from her public conduct and from the passion that his father had in empowerment of women and in strengthening the grassroots democracy, he would go a long way in his role as a matured politician.