When I met Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 at Allahabad, little did I know that this was the last time I would be setting eyes on him. He had come to Allahabad in connection with an election rally and he was full of hope for India. His eyes were full of the promise he wanted to deliver for the Nation, and his smile said it all.
His honesty was writ large on his face, and therefore his assassination on 21st May 1991 left me totally bewildered and shocked. How could anybody in their right frame of mind be so insensitive as to go and assassinate the future of India. But tragedy struck and Rajiv Gandhi had to pay with his life.
Sonia Gandhi was at that point of time completely shattered at this sudden loss, but she kept her composure. After his death, she was invited by the Congress to lead the party in 1991 but she refused.
In 1997 she was again finally persuaded by the Party to lead them in view of the dithering fortunes of the party, and in 1998 she was appointed Leader of the Congress party.
Since then she has stayed at the helm of the Congress party through thick and thin. She weathered many a storm, notable among them her being labelled as an Italian citizen, the breakaway from the party by Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and P.A.Sangma to form their own party, but she strode like a queen and vanquished every obstacle in sight. If ever there was an Iron Lady, there she was.
She however preferred to bask in the glory of Congress leaders and let them run the party and the Government, while she kept a tight rein on the affairs going on inside.
She now completes 15 years of selfless service to the Nation as well as to the Congress party as it's President. She is also leading the UPA coalition as its Chairperson.
The Congress party will remain indebted to her for having revived the sagging fortunes of the party at many a critical juncture and continuing to lead them into the future.
Her son Rahul Gandhi has now been elevated to the post of Congress Vice President and continues to lead and keep alive the legacy of this grand old party.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi now becomes the longest serving President in the history of the Congress Party. Many congratulations to her and her family. May she continue to guide the party for many more years to come. Cheers!