Gandhi gives little away about her thinking on economic policy, but dispatches from the US embassy in New Delhi during the early years of Singh's tenure show she made "repeated objections" to proposed hikes in fuel prices, which are heavily subsidised to cushion the poor.
"Key leaders (including Sonia Gandhi) have opposed the price hikes, criticised the way they have been handled, or urged Congress to capitulate to ... demands for a 'rollback', and the party is finding it difficult to speak with one voice," one of the cables said.
Describing a leader who projects herself as a benevolent matriarch, the dispatches were scathing about one of her pet projects, a scheme guaranteeing 100 days of paid employment per year for rural citizens. "At worst, the jobs plan is political patronage run amok and horrid economic policy," one said.
Gandhi also set up the National Advisory Council, a government-funded think tank that offers legislative guidance on social policy and the rights of disadvantaged groups.
A batch of letters Gandhi wrote as chairperson of the council, which were recently released under the Right to Information Act, illustrate where her priorities lie.
Writing to the prime minister and several ministers, she drew their attention to issues such as legal entitlement to subsidised foodgrains, child labour, housing for the poor and "indiscriminate acquisition" of agricultural land for private companies. In one letter, she closed by urging a minister: "You may like to have the matter examined appropriately".
Image: Activists from the Sikh student federation shout-slogans as they burn an effigy of Sonia during a protest against price hikes in diesel, cooking fuel, and the passage of foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in Amritsar on September 16,2012.