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Power never held any attraction for me: Sonia

Politics can also be the "art of the impossible," says Congress president

— Photo: AP

RECOUNTING EXPERIENCE: Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the Nexus Institute in the Netherlands on Saturday. To her right is Dutch Queen Beatrix.

Tilburg (The Netherlands): Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who renounced prime ministership after the 2004 polls, on said on Saturday that India had taught her that politics was not just the art of the possible, it could also be the ``art of the impossible.''

Ms. Gandhi prefaced her remark by saying that she has often been asked why she turned down the prime ministership after being unanimously elected as the party leader in Parliament.

"I always knew in my heart that if I ever found myself in that position I would decline the post of prime minister,'' she said. She told her colleagues that ``it was dictated by my inner voice.''

Delivering a lecture on `Living Politics: What India has Taught Me' at the Nexus Institute here, Ms. Gandhi said, ``The plain fact is that power for itself has never held any attraction for me.''

``My aim in politics has always been to do whatever I can in my own way to defend the secular democratic foundation of our country and to address the concerns and aspirations of the many whose voice often remains unheard,'' she said.

Speaking about faster growth and social equity, she said it was not a matter of choosing one over the other. ``Growth without equity leads to a destabilised society while equity without growth simply cannot be sustained.''

Ms. Gandhi said that democracy over the years has made India more egalitarian but also given new power to some old forces ``that sought to polarise and mobilise communities along religious lines.'' They threatened the very essence of India, the diversity of faith and cultures, languages and ways of life that have sprung from its soil and taken root in it, she said.

``The Congress found itself in the midst of uncertainty and turmoil. In 1996, it lost the national elections. Pressure begin to build up across the country urging me to emerge from my seclusion and enter public life,'' she added.

The Institute is a leading Dutch think tank, which organises conferences on political, cultural and philosophical issues. Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Jan Peter Balkenende, hosted a dinner in honour of Ms. Gandhi, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Institute. — PTI

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