1996 Congress lost the general elections, Narasimha Rao stepped down as party president. Sonia refused to interfere in the appointment of Rao’s successor. She was surprised when Sitaram Kesri replaced Rao. But it was the best possible stop-gap arrangement.
1997 Sonia took primary membership of the Congress at the Calcutta session. In her speech she said, “Our ideology of nationalism, secularism, democracy and socialism is the only relevant ideology for our country”.