Outside Gandhi's 10, Janpath residence, party workers danced and distributed sweets. Women from all walks of life also assembled at the party headquarters to congratulate Gandhi. Party workers carrying banners of Sonia and her late husband Rajiv Gandhi, shouted slogans like "Sonia Gandhi Zindabad." "It is high time people realised that a woman in power helps. It is because of her that the United Progressive Alliance Government (UPA) is united." said Delhi Mahila Congress leader Seema Abid. ''She shows total clean dealing with her allies, even with people like the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) which has had an ego clash. She knows how to give respect to senior leaders. In fact even better than Vajpayee,'' said Rasheed Kidwai, Sonia Gandhi's biographer.
Her decade-long stint has probably been the toughest ever for any leader in the party's 123-year-old history.
Tasked with the responsibility of managing a coalition for the first time at the Centre, political analysts say the high point of her presidency has been the victory of the Congress Party and its allies in the May 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Though singularly credited for that victory, she chose close confidante and renowned economist Manmohan Singh to take on the mantle of Prime Minister, raising her political standing further.
''I was always certain that if I ever found myself in the position I am in today, I would follow my inner voice. Today that voice tells me that I must humbly decline this post,'' Congress president Sonia Gandhi had said on May 18, 2004.