Sonia Gandhi completed 17 years as Congress president on Saturday, March 14, a landmark achievement considering the time at which she took the mantle of party amid a total collapse in 1998 and to take party to power in 2004 and 2009.
Sonia took reins of Congress on March 14, 1998, after stiff opposition from within the party.
She joined active politics in 1997 amidst constant request from the party members since the demise of Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991.
The period between 1998 and 2015 as party chief was no short of a roller coaster ride for the Italian, and saw the party rising and a sudden retreat following its decimation in Lok Sabha polls in 2014.
Here are a few highlights from her career as Party president:
- Won Lok Sabha elections in 1999 from Bellary, Karnataka, defeating BJP's Sushma Swaraj
- Elected in the 13th Lok Sabha as Leader of Opposition in 1999 during the NDA government
- In 2004 spearheaded a nationwide campaign against the "India Shining" slogan of the NDA
- Won the election in 2004 from the Rae Bareilly constituency
- Denied offer to become the Prime Minister of India
- In 2004, Sonia Gandhi was mentioned as the world's third most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine
- Re-elected in 2006 from Rae Bareilly constituency
- Instrumental in enacting the Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
- Congress won 206 seats in 2009 General Elections
- Lok Sabha debacle in 2014 and subsequent loss in different assembly elections