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Images: 15 years of Sonia Gandhi as Congress party chief

Sonia Gandhi with Congress president and Prime Minister Narasimha Rao at a prayer ceremony in 1995. Sonia had allegedly already begun playing a role in the Congress despite not being a member of the party. Reuters

Sonia Gandhi with Congress president and then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao at a prayer ceremony in 1995. Sonia had allegedly already begun playing a role in the Congress despite not being a member of the party. Reuters

 

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Beleaguered by allegations of corruption and facing massive dissent, Rao resigned as Congress president in September 1996. Sitaram Kesri was elected the next party chief in 1997. The same year Sonia Gandhi took primary membership within the party. Reuters

 

Reuters

By 1998, the clamour for Sonia Gandhi's entry into politics had only grown louder and as the Congress website notes, "Shortly before the Lok Sabha elections in 1998, in response to widespread demands from Congress Party rank and file, she entered public life." Sonia Gandhi campaigned in the 1998 elections but the Congress still lost the polls ending the reign of Sitaram Kesri (right)  as party president. Reuters

 

The Congress lost the 1998 general elections and it meant the end of Sitaram Kesri as the party president. On 14 March, despite reservations from Kesri and other senior party leader Sharad Pawar and their supporters, a majority in the Congress Working Committee voted to have Sonia Gandhi as the next party president. She became party president in April 1998. Congress workers celebrated wildly. Reuters

On 14 March 1998, despite reservations from Kesri and other senior party leader Sharad Pawar and their supporters, a majority in the Congress Working Committee voted to have Sonia Gandhi as the next party president. She became party president in April 1998. Congress workers celebrated wildly. Reuters

 

Senior Congress leader Sharad Pawar with Sonia Gandhi in happier times. Pawar, PA Sangma and  Sharad Pawar, P. A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar contested the right of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi to lead the party. Sonia offered to resign, was persuaded to stay and the three leaders were expelled instead. Reuters

Senior Congress leader Sharad Pawar with Sonia Gandhi in happier times. Pawar, PA Sangma and Sharad Pawar, P. A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar contested the right of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi to lead the party. Sonia offered to resign, was persuaded to stay and the three leaders were expelled instead in 1999. Reuters

 

Sonia Gandhi with daughter Priyanka Gandhi in Bellary district campaigning during the 1999 elections. Sonia campaigned in two constituencies, Amethi and Bellary, both Congress strongholds and finally represented Amethi. She also became the Leader of Opposition after the BJP came to power. Reuters

Sonia Gandhi with daughter Priyanka Gandhi in Bellary district campaigning during the 1999 elections. Sonia campaigned in two constituencies, Amethi and Bellary, both Congress strongholds and finally represented Amethi. Reuters

 

Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While the Congress lost the election, Sonia became the Leader of Opposition after the BJP came to power. Reuters

Sonia Gandhi with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While the Congress lost the election, Sonia became the Leader of Opposition after the BJP came to power. Reuters

 

Son Rahul Gandhi decided to make his entry into politics by contesting the 2004 polls along with his mother. Reuters

Son Rahul Gandhi decided to make his entry into politics by contesting the 2004 polls along with his mother. Reuters

 

Activists of Congress Party put garlands on a cutout of party president Sonia Gandhi in Calcutta in May 2004 after the party swept back to power as India voted out the BJP. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee conceded defeat. Reuters

Activists of Congress Party put garlands on a cutout of party president Sonia Gandhi in Calcutta in May 2004 after the party swept back to power as India voted out the BJP. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee conceded defeat. Reuters

 

Despite being voted party chief after the electoral victory, Sonia Gandhi decided not to become the party's prime ministerial candidate after massive protests by the BJP. Despite pleas from Congress activists, Sonia refused to take up the post, picking former finance minister Manmohan Singh instead. Singh flanked by Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi speaks to the media after he met with Indian President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam on May 19, 2004. Reuters

Despite being voted party chief after the electoral victory, Sonia Gandhi decided not to become the party's prime ministerial candidate after massive protests by the BJP. Despite pleas from Congress activists, Sonia refused to take up the post, picking former finance minister Manmohan Singh instead. Singh flanked by Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi speaks to the media after he met with Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam on May 19, 2004. Reuters

 

After the tenure of President APJ Kalam ended there was a quandary over who the Congress would back as its presidential candidate. The Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, picked Rajasthan governor and former Congress party leader Pratibha Patil as its presidential candidate. On 21 July 2007 India elected its first female president. Reuters

After the tenure of President APJ Kalam ended there was a quandary over who the Congress would back as its presidential candidate. The Congress, led by Sonia Gandhi, picked Rajasthan governor and former Congress party leader Pratibha Patil as its presidential candidate. On 21 July 2007 India elected its first female president. Reuters

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Despite the Left parties withdrawing support to the Congres led government it managed to survive its full term. Supporters of the Congress party celebrate outside the party president Sonia Gandhi's residence on July 22, 2008. Reuters

Despite the Left parties withdrawing support to the Congres led government it managed to survive its full term. Supporters of the Congress party celebrate outside the party president Sonia Gandhi's residence on July 22, 2008. Reuters

 

After five years in power, the Congress battled any sentiment of anti-incumbency that may have been there to come back to power again in May 2009. Reuters

After five years in power, the Congress battled any sentiment of anti-incumbency that may have been there to come back to power again in May 2009. Reuters

 

Despite scams, a belligerent opposition and constant allegations of corruption, the UPA government has survived. With Manmohan Singh unlikely to take part in the next elections and her own health in question, many have voiced doubts about the Congress' performance in the next general elections. Reuters

Despite scams, a belligerent opposition and constant allegations of corruption, the UPA government has survived. With Manmohan Singh unlikely to take part in the next elections and her own health in question, many have voiced doubts about the Congress' performance in the next general elections. Reuters


Published Date: Mar 14, 2013 16:31 PM | Updated Date: Mar 14, 2013 16:33 PM

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