Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday dismissed the opposition's charge of her being the power behind the throne in the Manmohan Singh government. She said similar insinuations were hurled at her even when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister.
"I am not the power the behind the throne. I do not wish to be power behind the throne," Gandhi said replying to questions at the 'Hindustan Times Leadership Initiative' in New Delhi.
Gandhi, who is also the United Progressive Alliance chairperson, said she "does not look at government files or take government decisions."
The Congress president, the key-note speaker, captured the audience virtually from the word go with this opening gambit -- "I am ready to bet that none of you expected me last year to take part in this year's conference as part of the establishment."
She handled several questions on different issues including a "tough" one from Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan with ease and quick wit, prompting National Conference leader Omar Abdullah to raise a query as to how a "transformation" had taken place in her.
Replying to a question, she allayed apprehensions about the stability of the UPA coalition in the backdrop of the Left parties' critical noises on several issues. "There is no need to worry at all," she said.
"We are coalition partners. They are valued allies. We work on the basis of the Common Minimum Programme after consultation with all concerned," she said.
On the Left criticism from time to time, she said it was the right of all coalition partners to express their feelings and to make their point.