NEW DELHI, March 14 (Xinhua) -- India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi has completed 15 years at the helm of the 127- year-old political outfit.
The 66-year-old Italy-born widow of slain Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the daughter-in-law of the country's first woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Sonia was first elected as the Congress president in 1998, a year after she joined politics following intensive persuasion from senior party leaders.
Although Sonia is the fifth foreign-born person to be leader of the Congress party, she is the first since independence in 1947.
Her foreign birth has been a subject of much debate and controversy and in 2004 she had declined the post of prime minister even though the Congress party swept to power in the general elections.
Gandhi is currently in the fourth term as Congress chief in which she was elected unopposed in 2010, which expires in 2015.
"The judicious and wise leadership of the Congress president has not only strengthened the party but rejuvenated the fundamentals of the idea of India," Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said, lauding Sonia's achievements.
Added Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, "We Congress leaders from across the nation congratulate her. India has got a great leadership provided by her."