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Forbes: The Most Powerful Women in Politics 2012

4. Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi was unanimously re-elected President of India's Congress Party for the fourth time in 2010, making her the longest serving chief in the party's history. This July, the Congress Party's candidate, former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was declared the country's president, a largely ceremonial position. Born in Italy, Gandhi's connection to India began when she married Rajiv Gandhi, the heir to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty in 1968. For two decades, Gandhi played the quiet role of a political wife and only accepted a leadership role after his 1991 assassination. She refused to serve as prime minister when her party won national elections in 2004 and 2009, instead delegating the role to Manmohan Singh. Lauded for overseeing heavy economic growth, she is also criticized for tolerating political corruption and failing to forge connections with India's fastest-growing demographic--younger voters. Gandhi is an avid scholar of the arts, and holds a degree in oil painting conservation. In July she gave her party's support to prime minister Singh's much-anticipated reform initiative for the country, which will include building infrastructure, increasing energy potential and managing food, fuel and fertilizer in the crowded nation.
(AP Photo)

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