Making her debut in the club of 100 most powerful women in the world, India's Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati has joined Congress President Sonia Gandhi in a list compiled by US magazine Forbes.
While Gandhi, also chairperson of the country's ruling UPA alliance, has slipped from her previous year's sixth rank to 21st this year, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has made her debut at 59th.
The list also includes Indra Nooyi, the Indian-origin chief of global soft drink major PepsiCo, at third position, up from fifth last year, and Indian biotechnology firm Biocon's chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw at 99th.
The list has been topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Gandhi, the magazine said the Italian-born leader of India's most powerful political party has by now assumed the role of an elder stateswoman. "Although she remains firmly at the head of the country's ruling party, a rising star, known by the single name Mayawati, is challenging Gandhi's position as the country's most powerful woman."
Mayawati-led BSP recently withdrew its outside support to the Gandhi-led ruling combine in the country. The magazine said that Mayawati has aligned herself with the nationalist Hindu BJP party and joined its members in vociferously opposing Gandhi's party's historic agreement with the US on nuclear cooperation.
The magazine described Mayawati as the one "in the running to be prime minister, from her perch as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state". "In 1995, at 39, she was the youngest politician elected to the post and was also the first Dalit... to head a state government," it said.
According to Forbes, its annual ranking of the most powerful women measures "power" as a composite of public profile and financial heft. The economic component considers job title and past career accomplishments, as well as the amount of money the woman controls.
Merkel is followed by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp Chairman Sheila C Bair of the US at the second position.
Others in the top ten include WellPoint CEO Angela Braly, Anglo-American CEO Cynthia Carroll, Kraft Foods chief Irene B Rosenfeld, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Temasek Holdings CEO Ho Ching, Areva CEO Anne Lauvergeon and Xerox Corp CEO Anne Mulcahy.
Gandhi, Mayawati and Shaw are the only three Indians on the list, while Nooyi is the only other person of Indian-origin.
About Nooyi, the third most powerful in the world, the magazine said that she "continues to grow PepsiCo, the $39 billion food and beverage giant, through new product offerings and acquisitions".
Despite her fall from sixth position last year, Gandhi has outranked people like Hillary Clinton (28th), Oprah Winfrey (36th), Melinda Gates (40th), Laura Bush (44th) and Queen Elizabeth II (58th).