Sonia Gandhi,who completed 15 years as Congress president on Wednesday,told party leaders Thursday that it was not an easy task for her and credited party workers for making it easier by extending their support,love and affection.
Sonia said this in her interactions with senior party leaders who called on her to congratulate her. Congress sources said some state party chiefs had sought permission for celebrating the occasion in a grand fashion,but she advised them against it in view of the drought situation in some parts of the country.
The longest-serving president of the 127-year-old party,Sonia took over the reins from Sitaram Kesri in March 1998. She is in her fourth term as Congress president at present.
After she took charge,the number of states where the Congress was in the government went up from 3 to 16. Even today,the Congress is in power in 13 states, said Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi.
Another aspect of her leadership is related to ideology. Before she took charge of the party,doubts were being raised about the partys commitment to its core ideology viz.,socialism,secularism and democracy. She re-established it (partys ideological commitment). She implemented these concepts in the partys programmes,which was evident in 2004 and 2009 manifestoes and in all the programmes of UPA I and UPA II. The all-inclusive ideology and programmes have brought immense changes in the lives of farmers,dalits,backward communities,minorities,et al. This is her biggest contribution, he said.
Sonia assumed charge of the party at a time when it was going through a turbulent phase and was on a downslide after its loss in 1996 and 1998 general elections. She taught how to follow the path of sacrifice, said Delhi Congress chief J P Agrawal,referring to her refusal to accept the post of prime minister in 2004.
Information and Broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said,The judicious and wise leadership of the Congress president has not only strengthened the party but also rejuvenated the fundamentals of the idea of India.
Sources said Sonia will lead the party at least until 2014 Lok Sabha elections.