New York: Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, steel baron Lakshmi Mittal and Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi figure in Time magazine’s coveted list of 100 most influential people, which also includes Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
But missing from the list for the first time in four years is US President George W. Bush.
In a write up on Gandhi, who is also on the cover of the magazine’s Asia edition, Time says in the 16 years since the death of her husband, she had become the face of the country’s most famous family and as leader of the Congress party, she has managed the largest political party in the country and steered it to victory.
“And she has done all this wearing a sari. Imagine if the US were run by an Indian Hindu woman without a college degree. It’s tough: the US has never elected anyone who’s not Christian, white and male - even as Vice President. But India, which is an even bigger democracy, is run in all but name by an Italian Catholic widow with a high school education,” it adds.
When her party won national elections in 2004, she was offered the prime ministership; she listened to her “inner voice” and turned it down, and anointed the economist Manmohan Singh in her stead, the magazine recalled.
“It was a gesture that was, well, Gandhian. And it solidified her hold on power. For ordinary Indians, this act of renunciation held tremendous mythic resonance. Though Singh is Prime Minister, it is Sonia, 60, who is the kingmaker.
“And her most lasting legacy may lie in her children Rahul and Priyanka, one of whom may well become India’s Prime Minister someday, ascending to the high office that their mother has thus far “renounced,” it said.