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After 25 years in Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi begins new journey in Rajya Sabha

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New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) Having completed 25 years in the Lok Sabha, Congress Parliamentary Party chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday started her fresh innings in the Rajya Sabha after she took oath as a member of the Upper House.

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She will represent Rajasthan in the Council of States by filling the seat that fell vacant after 91-year-old former prime minister Manmohan Singh completed his tenure on April 3.

Sonia Gandhi will be the second member of the Gandhi family to enter the Rajya Sabha after former prime minister and her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, who had a two-and-a-half-year tenure (from August 1964 to February 1967) as a member of the Upper House.

Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were present when she took oath in Hindi in the presence of Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar.

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Sonia Gandhi has always been a member of the Lok Sabha, and completed five terms in the Lower House of the Parliament since 1999. In that year, she had contested from Uttar Pradesh's Amethi, her first general election after taking over as the president of the Congress a year earlier.

In 2004, she won the election from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh and has been representing it since then. The 77-year-old Congress leader has never lost a Lok Sabha election.

During the last Lok Sabha polls, she had said that the 2019 polls would be her last election.

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Born in Lusiana, Vicenza in Italy on December 9, 1946, she married Rajiv Gandhi, the son of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on February 25, 1968. She took an active part in politics only in 1998 but used to accompany her husband Rajiv Gandhi when he became the prime minister after his mother's assassination in 1984.

After Sonia's entry in politics in 1998, when the Congress was in tatters at the Centre and in power only in four states, she agreed to take up the party's reins after she was persuaded to do so in the wake of senior leaders quitting the party to set up regional outfits.

When the Congress was in shambles, Sonia -- described by sections of the media as the most powerful woman in India -- steered it to victory in 2004, ousting the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

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When she appeared all set to occupy the post of prime minister, she sprung a surprise when she took a back seat and chose Manmohan Singh as the prime minister of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2004.

She remained the chairperson of the UPA as well as the National Advisory Council (NAC) from 2004 to 2014 when the Congress-led government was in power for two successive terms.

Sonia has taken a back seat in the recent past due to illness, and has not campaigned actively for the party for long, leaving it for her son Rahul to play a more active role.

Her sharpest weapon being her silence, as she spoke little and seldom in public, but wielded enormous power within the Congress. PTI SKC MNK SKC MNK MNK

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