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Meeting Sonia

A brief encounter with the improbable victor of the Indian election

By Jonathan Power   June 2004

Sonia Gandhi was the underestimated candidate. It is not hard to see why. She had everything against her – her origins (Italian), her religion (nominally Catholic), her education (modest) and, not least, the fact that this shy woman pales by comparison with her murdered mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, the master politician. Even some of her staff were dismissive, calling her Kungi Kureya – Hindi for a mute doll.

Yet when, a few months before her surprise election victory, I met the 57-year-old head of the Congress party – and now a key figure in the new Indian government – she came…

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