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A look at Sonia Gandhi's political career

By Simran Kashyap
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New Delhi, Aug 11: After Sonia Gandhi deftly led the Congress for 19 long years and wrested power twice at the Centre and in several states, she was back in the saddle on Saturday to steer it out of troubled waters once again.

A look at Sonia Gandhis political career

The news came after 20 months where she had handed over the reins of the Congress to her son Rahul Gandhi, 72-year-old Sonia Gandhi emerged as the unanimous choice of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) that decided to bank on her experience and tested leadership to regain the pristine glory of 134-year-old party.

Sonia Gandhi back as chief: Full text of Congress resolution

When Sonia had decided to retire and hand over the crown to Rahul Gandhi, one realised that she had to be brought back to lead the party whose fortunes were going down after every election.

Let us go through her political career?

Sonia was born on 9 December 1946 in Italy's Contrada Màini district in a village called Lusiana. Her father, Stefano Maino, was in the housing business in Orbassano, the town where Sonia grew up. She went to England in 1964 and enrolled at an English language school in Cambridge city.

She was the wife of Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India who was assassinated in 1991. Their son, Rahul, was born in 1970, and daughter, Priyanka, in 1972.

Sonia Gandhi actively participated in politics after the assassination of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi in 1984. She campaigned against Maneka Gandhi, who was contesting against her husband in Amethi. After Sonia's entry in politics in 1998, when the Congress was in tatters at the Centre and in power only in four states, she agreed to pick up the party reins, after she was persuaded to do so in the wake of senior leaders quitting the party to set up regional outfits.

After Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, Sonia was persuaded to join the party and also take up the position of Prime Minister. However, she refused.

She joined the party in the Calcutta Plenary Session as a primary member in 1997. In 1998, she became the party leader.

Under Sonia's leadership, the Congress-led UPA came up with a decisive majority win in the 2009 general elections. The party won 206 Lok Sabha seats, which was then considered the highest by any party since 1991. She was re-elected to a third term and represented Rae Bareli.

She became the first person to serve the party as President for 15 years consecutively in 2013. She retained her seat in Rae Bareli in the 2014 general election, but the Indian National Congress and the Congress-led UPA electoral alliance came up with the worst result, winning only 44 and 59 seats.

Sonia had taken a back seat in the recent past after several rounds of illness, returned to the helm of the party as an aggressive opposition leader, after the Congress suffered a massive drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls under Rahul Gandhi's leadership.

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