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50 People Who Matter 2011 | 29. Sonia Gandhi

Madam India.

Italian-born Sonia Gandhi is widely considered as one of the most powerful politicians in India, becoming the longest-serving president in the history of the Indian National Congress on being re-elected for the fourth time in September 2010. A daughter-in-law of the former prime minister Indira Gandhi, she began her political career when her husband, Rajiv, assumed the premiership in 1984. She distanced herself from politics after Rajiv's assassination in 1991, but returned six years later. Gandhi is chairperson of the ruling coalition, the United Progressive Alliance.

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This article first appeared in the 26 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, The fifty people who matter