Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sonia and Order of Leopold

In a unique honor, Belgium on Saturday conferred the Order of Leopold, the country's second highest civilian award, on Sonia Gandhi, Congress president and United Progressive Alliance chairperson, for her "constructive nationalism" and her efforts to foster a multicultural, tolerant society in India.

I am not sure what they mean by constructive nationalism?is she being awarded for the effort she took to construct her "nationalism" here? 

Anyway, The Order of Leopold  is one of the three Belgian national honorary Orders. It is the highest Order of Belgium and is named in honour of King Leopold I.  The decoration was established in 1832 and is awarded for extreme bravery in combat or for meritorious service of immense benefit to the Belgian nation.

Now what is this meticulous service which our Madam Sonia has given to Belgium? And it is hilarious as this award also recognise Extreme Bravery in Combat. During the India-Pakistan war of 1971 (coinciding with the liberation struggle of Bangladesh), under emergency provisions, the leave applications of all Indian Airlines pilots were cancelled so that they could be used for providing logistical support. The only exception was Rajiv Gandhi, a full-time pilot with Indian Airlines. Sonia Gandhi nee Maino, who now claims that she is an Indian till her last breath, flew off to Italy with Rajiv Gandhi and their two children.

After news came in that the Congress and Indira Gandhi had been defeated in 1977, Sonia Gandhi nee Maino packed an overnighter and, with husband and children in tow, took refuge in the Italian embassy in New Delhi's Chanakyapuri. It took the combined efforts of Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi and the other 'bahu' of the household, Maneka Gandhi nee Anand, to convince her to return to the Gandhi home.

Responding to the honor conferred on her, Sonia said, "I do believe that by conferring this distinction you are recognizing not the individual that I am, but the values that I have imbibed and stand for." Ahem Ahem...

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