Sonia Gandhi called the shots in UPA, says Arun Maira Arun Maira has backed the charge of his former media advisor Sanjaya Baru that Manmohan Singh was a figurehead in the UPA. Arun Maira, a member of the Planning Commission chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has backed the charge of his former media advisor Sanjaya Baru that Singh was a figurehead in the UPA, while Sonia Gandhi controlled the government's reins. "Sonia Gandhi chose not to become Prime minister when she led the party to a stunning victory in 2004. Instead, she anointed a loyal technocrat, Dr Manmohan Singh, as the prime minister, while she has called the shots on all important appointments and policies," Maira has written in his new book Redesigning the Aeroplane While Flying: Reforming Institutions to be released today. "Now her son, Rahul Gandhi, is being called upon to do his dynastic duty and lead the Congress party. Unfortunately, many other Indian political parties have also adopted similar autocratic and dynastic structures," Maira wryly noted, tracing the rise in the Congress party's centralised approach to its Indira Gandhi days, in the book published by Rupa Publications. Making the case that the Congress party has become more centralized and less democratic since independence, failing the vision for the party articulated by Mahatma Gandhi before his death in January 1948, Maira said India remains a relic of the British Raj with its age-old civil services structure that still works as a 'command and control' institution and monarchical political parties like the Congress replacing the British monarchy. "With (Indira's) ascent to power, the party was set towards becoming a dynasty. Following this, her son, Rajiv Gandhi, became prime minister. Then her daughter-inlaw, Sonia Gandhi, became the president of the Congress party," writes the Plan Panel member whose term in government will end along with UPA-II. Interestingly, Aam Aadmi Party leader and former Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had admitted to Maira that running a movement or political party requires a different approach from running a government, days before he and his government resigned. Stating that he first met Kejriwal in 2006, when he ran a local NGO Parivartan, Maira writes that they had then discussed how movements for changing institutions can be scaled up or 'spread around' in the AAP leader's words. "I met Arvind again recently after he was suddenly made the chief minister of Delhi. He admitted that the structures for managing movements, political parties and governments are inherently different. The questions were: How does one build them and how does one change them?" Maira recalled. More than sixty years after independence, India's governance structures retain elements of the British Raj, Maira points out. "Civil services designed like iron frames (though rusting rapidly) and monarchical political parties in place of the British monarchy... The inability of India's institutions of governance to change adequately has resulted in the growing decline of citizens' trust in them." Linking the Congress' current shape to its inability to change its role after independence, Maira writes: "India's principal political party, the Indian National Congress, which was in the vanguard of the freedom movement, and for whose redesign (Mahatma) Gandhi had called the meeting in Sevagram in 1948, has become less democratic and more centralised since then." "The meeting had been convened by Mahatma Gandhi to discuss what type of institutions India would need to create an inclusive and just society. Among other things, he was concerned about the role of the Congress Party, which could get corrupted as it began to govern the country." "The meeting had been convened by Mahatma Gandhi to discuss what type of institutions India would need to create an inclusive and just society. Among other things, he was concerned about the role of the Congress Party, which could get corrupted as it began to govern the country." "Unfortunately, he was assassinated on January 30, 1948 before that meeting," noted Maira, adding that around 50 participants including Jawaharlal Nehru, MauAlana Azad and Vinoba Bhave eventually met in March n March that year, but couldn't reach a consensus on Gandhi's proposal. Maira, who was earlier the chairman of the Boston Consulting Group in India and had spent over two decades in the Tata group, was brought into the Planning Commission in 2009 with a mandate from the PM to reform the thinktank and convert it into a 'systems reforms commission'. At that time, Singh had described the Planning Commission's new role, at a time when the states were becoming more powerful, as an 'essay i .. Sonia Gandhi called the shots in UPA, says Arun Maira - The Economic Times ******************************************************* it is clear that Mrs Sonia Gandhi called the shots and Sajaya Baru's stand is vindicated. And the mess the country and India is in, is all because of her, since she is only crafty, but lacking in governance and leadership. MMS also proved that he was no leader.