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Just when I think I have seen it all, life throws a spin; Sonia Gandhi rejected the offer to become India's latest Prime Minister. Perhaps there really are altruistic politicians out there, who just want the best for their country and are not swayed by promises of power. According the New York Times, Ms Gandhi is just following her "inner voice." She also may be considering the feeling so her children who fear another assassination or the threats of the former ruling party to boycott her leadership. By declining to lead the country officially, Gandhi might be making her unofficial leadership stronger. The Hindu quotes Jairam Ramesh, "A long line of renunciates have dotted India right from the days of Gautama Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi; and, Sonia Gandhi has now joined this pantheon."

Ms Gandhi is not related to the famous Gandhiji, nor was her husband, Rajiv. Rather they are descendents of Nehru, India's first Prime Minister. Sonia Gandhi fell in love with young Rajiv when the were both attending school in Cambridge in the '60s. Neither of them desired or anticipated entrance into the political life, Rajiv's older brother Sanjay was being combed for that position. However when Sanjay died in a plane wreck, the future of the family and its political party fell on the younger brother's shoulders and like a good son, he rose to his duty and continued to do so after his mother, Prime Minister at the time, was assassinated in 1984. Like mother, like son, Rajiv was assassinated seven years after his mother, while he too was Prime Minister. It took years of solitude and pleading by the Congress Party before his widow came out of hiding. She claims she only did it for the good of her adopted country, to help remove the Hindu fundamentalists from power.

Looking at Ms. Gandhi's approach to politics and I can't help but think about another woman who entered the political arena first through marriage, then through elections. I doubt Hillary Clinton will become a renunciate any time soon (though it seems that Al Gore has) and I don't blame her. This is not India; we do not have a history of valuing those who reject the cloak of power. However, I find it interesting that India, with such a reputation for misogyny, does not blink at the thought of women politicians or a woman Prime Minister.

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