The most powerful Indians in 2012: No. 1-10
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1. Rahul Gandhi, 41
Congress General Secretary
Rank '11: 12
He has emerged as the Congress party's most important leader, the one they are counting on for a healthy showing in the Assembly elections in states, including Uttar Pradesh. His rise has been propelled by mother Sonia Gandhi's illness which forced her to scale down political activities.
He set the tone for the bitter run-up to polls in Uttar Pradesh when he angered the Mayawati government by taking up the cause of farmers seeking a bigger compensation for land acquired in the villages of Bhatta and Parsaul. He led a delegation to the PM and complained about alleged police atrocities in the villages.
With the government weak and his mother unable to give the party the time she would want to, the Congress will look to Rahul to lead from the front, all the way to 2014. Any gains in Uttar Pradesh could be his coming-out party, restore some stability at the Centre, and magnify his leverage when both the government and the party are on the defensive.
BY THE WAY
When he went to JNU to address students, a girl in one of the hostels asked him to pick up his dishes and put them in the mess sink. He willingly obliged.
2. Sonia Gandhi, 65
Rank '11: 2
With problems mounting for the Congress-led government at the Centre and the Prime Minister under constant attack, she has been countering the offensive. She took a five-week break from work to undergo surgery for an undisclosed ailment. She pushed the National Food Security Bill which, after being cleared by the Cabinet, was tabled in the Lok Sabha in December 2011.