Sonia Gandhi, the Italian born daughter-in-law of the Nehru political dynasty in India, has stepped from the mundane world of politics straight into the realm of Hindu Mythology as a goddess. P. Snankar Rao, a regional leader of the Congress party, is building a temple dedicated to her in Andhra Pradesh.
Rao is an ex-Minister and presently an MLA from Sikandarabad Cantt., in Andhra Pradesh. He is building the temple near Hyderabad-Banglore Highway, on a patch of land owned by his daughter. This temple is to house an idol of Gandhi with a sapling in one hand and a fruit basket in the other. The prototype has been approved by the Congress legislators and is to be sculpted by an award-winning Indian sculptor. The original bronze idol of Gandhi will be 2.7 meters tall and will weigh 500 kilograms.
The temple is a tribute for Gandhi by the Congress party legislators for her decision to make southern Andhra Pradesh into a new state, Telangana. Telangana, if the draft bill is approved, will be the 29th state in the Indian Union. It is for this very reason that the idol of Gandhi has been named Telangana Talli (Telangana mother).
The opposition leaders have termed this gesture by Rao as the height of sycophancy. In the opinion of these opposition figures, political leaders are respected in a democracy, not worshiped. Most political commentators believe that Andhra Pradesh is being split in order to carve out a constituency for Rahul Gandhi. Rahul is soon to be announced as the Congress party’s nominee for prime minister of India. He is the son of Gandhi, who at present heads the ruling Congress party.
Gandhi the goddess had a romantic relationship with Rajiv Gandhi, a commercial pilot at the time, and later married him and became a part of the powerful Nehru political dynasty. Before India gained independence, Moti Lal Nehru, the father of Jawahar Lal Nehru, was the president of the All India National Congress.
After 1947, Jawahar Lal was elected the first prime minister of independent India. After him, Indira, the mother-in-law of Gandhi, and the daughter of Nehru, became the prime minister of India. After the assassination of Indira by her Sikh security guard, the mantle passed on to her son Rajiv. Prime Minister Rajiv was killed by a suicide bomb bomber belonging to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). At the time of his tragic death, Gandhi, the young widow, became the president of Congress. It is not a secret in India that Gandhi is the de facto head of state of India. The political pundits hold the confirmed view that Gandhi willingly refused to become the prime minister of India because of her Italian roots. She had been grooming her son to be the prime minister and now the time has come for him to fulfill his destined role.
It is not the first time that a temple with an idol has been built for an Indian celebrity. Similar temples exist of the late N.T. Rama Rao, a popular film star turned politician and Amitabh Bachchan, the legendary film star of Bollywood. It is also expected that soon there will be a temple erected for Sachin Tendulkar, the illustrious Indian cricketer, who retired from international cricket in November of last year. This tradition is in keeping with the Hindu faith, as it is believed that whenever there is a time of dire crisis, the godhead takes birth as a human being to set the things right.
Today India is beset with a number of economic and social ills and it is up to goddess Gandhi to lead India out of the present mess and to set it on the path of glory and prosperity. All praise to goddess Gandhi.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada