Since Rajiv Gandhi's death, Sonia Gandhi led a life of near recluse for six years but for her appearances at a few official functions. But a number of Congress leaders and supporters looking for a charismatic personality to lead the party to electoral success kept sending their appeals to her to come and take over the party. She finally agreed to join politics in 1997 and in 1998, she was elected as the leader of the Congress. Since then, she has been the President of the Indian National Congress Party. She has served as the Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha since 2004. In September 2010, on being re-elected for the fourth time, she became the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the Congress party. On the duty of a politician, Sonia Gandhi always believed and says “I believe that while remaining representative of all interests, politics has a particular duty to those in need. As a politician in a country where many still live in poverty, it is my obligation and my responsibility to strive to empower the poor and the vulnerable. At times, this means being willing to fight entrenched social injustice. Indeed, the Indian, so long disempowered by poverty, has a greater claim on the fruits of our growing prosperity. To eradicate poverty, inequality and injustice from our society is an enormous task and it does remain our motivating goal. There are some who argue that faster growth will in the long run solve problems of social inequality and poverty and narrow the gap between rich and the poor. My aim in politics has always been to do whatever I can in my own way to defend the secular, democratic foundations of our country and to address the concerns and aspirations of the many whose voice often remains unheard”.
Sonia Gandhi was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in the year 2004 and was ranked 6th in 2007. In 2010, Gandhi ranked as the ninth most powerful person on the planet by Forbes Magazine. She was also named among the Time 100 most influential people in the world for the years 2007 and 2008. The British magazine New Statesman listed Sonia Gandhi at number 29th in their annual survey of "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures" in the year 2010.