|DOB||Dec 9, 1946|
|Place of Birth||Edvige Antonia Albina Mino|
|Profession before joining politics||Political and Social Worker|
|Spouse Name||Rajiv Gandhi|
|Children||1son 1 daughter|
|Important positions held||March 1998 onwards – President, Indian National Congress Chairperson, Congress (I) Parliamentary Party (CPP)|
About Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi is an Indian politician of the Nehru-Gandhi family’s third generation. Born as an Italian, her real name is Edvige Antonia Albina Maino. She is the daughter-in-law of the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi and a widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. In 1997, Sonia Gandhi joined politics due to the frequent requests from party members after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.She has been a topic of debate in Indian politics due to her foreign origin. Currently, Sonia Gandhi is the President of INC, which is 125 year old and one of the most powerful and ancient parties in the history of Indian Politics. In the year 2004, She became the president of UPA and served the post for a long time.
Sonia’s Personal Background
Sonia Gandhi was born in the year 1946 on 9th December at Contrada Miani in Lusiana, a small village about 30km from Vicenza,Veneto in Italy. She was a Roman Catholic who spent her life as a teenager in Orbassano near Turin. Stefano Miano and Paola Miano were her father and mother respectively. Her father, Stefano had a small construction business. Sonia Gandhi went to a Catholic School in Orbassano and later in 1964, she did an English study in the city of Cambridge in a school under Bell Education Trust. She worked as a waitress in Varsity Restaurant for sometime to overcome the catastrophes. She met Rajiv Gandhi in 1965, who was studying at Cambridge University. Rajiv and Sonia got married in 1968.The marriage was done as per traditional Hindu style. They have two children, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra. Before joining the politics in 1982, Rajiv Gandhi was an airline pilot whereas Sonia Gandhi was an housewife, who kept herself away from media and spotlight until she joined politics after much persuading in 1997.
How Sonia Gandhi entered Politics ?
When Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi was elected as the Prime Minister. Though Sonia had campaigned for Rajiv, she kept herself away from the spotlight studying art restoration to preserve the artistic treasures of India. Later in 1991, when Rajiv was assassinated she was considered by many as a natural heir of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Thereafter she was offered leadership post in Congress party which she declined. However, in 1993 she visited Rajiv’s former constituency in Amethi, Uttar Pradesh where she was greeted by cheering crowds. Subsequently, she travelled throughout the country on behalf of trusts and committees.
In 1998, Sonia Gandhi acknowledged to become the President of the then struggling Congress Party. Her initial efforts were overshadowed by the defeat of Congress party to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the subsequent election. However in 2004, followed by a nationwide campaign that targeted struggling farmers and the unemployed , the Congress Party won the National elections but could not gain a majority. Soon after that, the Congress Party formed a new coalition alliance called United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Though Sonia had decided not to lead the government as Prime Minister because of her foreign born controversial issue, she invited the Economist , Manmohan Singh to do the needful.
Sonia’s Activities and Achievements
- Soon after joining the Congress as a primary member, she was chosen as Party President within 62 days.
- Won Lok Sabha Elections in 1999 from Bellary, Uttar Pradesh defeating BJP.
- Elected in the 13th Lok Sabha Election in the year 1999 as Opposition Leader during NDA government led by BJP.
- In 2003, as an opposition leader she called no-confidence motion against the government.
- Holds the longest record of serving as President of Congress Party (serving for 10 consecutive years).
- In 2004 Elections, she launched a nationwide campaign of “Aam Aadmi “ slogan against the “India Shining” slogan of NDA led by BJP.
- Won the election in 2004 with a large margin from the Rae Bareli constituency. Thereafter, a fifteen party coalition government was formed led by Congress called United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
- Declared resignation from Lok Sabha and as Chairperson of National Advisory Council in March 2006 following the office of profit controversy ensued and speculation that the government plans to bring ordinance to exempt Chairperson’s post of National Advisory Council.
- Got re-elected in May 2006 from Rae Bareli constituency with a huge margin of votes
- During her tenure as Chairperson of UPA and the National Advisory Council, she was conducive of executing the Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
- Addressed the United Nation on the eve of Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October 2007.The UN passed a resolution on 15th July 2007, following which this day is observed as International Day of Non-violence.
- She was re-elected twice in 2004 and 2009 as Lok Sabha member from Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.
- In 2009 General Elections, the UPA government came to power again with Congress winning 206 seats in the Lok Sabha, the highest record ever since 1991.Manmohan Singh was re-elected as PM for a second term.
Controversies surrounding Sonia Gandhi
- During Bofors Scandal, an Italian businessman named Ottavio Quattrocchi was known to be a friend of Sonia Gandhi who apparently had access to Prime Minister’s official residence.
- Sonia’s name had appeared in the list of voters in the year 1980, when she was still a citizen of Italy which was against the Indian Law.
- The issue cropped up again in headlines in 1983 when her name appeared in voter’s list as the deadline for registering was January 1983, while she acquired Indian citizenship only in April 1983.In the year 1999, three senior leaders of Congress Party namely Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and P.A.Sangma had questioned her right for the post of Prime Minister but when Sonia offered her resignation as party leader, she received immense support which eventually lead to the dismissal of the three members from party.
Honors and Recognition :
- Mentioned by the Forbes Magazine as the world’s third most powerful woman in 2004.
- Received an Honorary Doctorate from the Brussels University in 2006.
- Honoured with Order of King Leopold by the Government of Belgium.
- Mentioned by the Forbes Magazine as the world’s sixth most powerful woman in 2007.
- In the year 2007 and 2008, she was mentioned as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time.
- Received an Honorary Doctorate in Literature in the year 2008 from Madras University.
- Mentioned by the Forbes Magazine as the world’s ninth most powerful woman in 2009.
- A British Magazine called New Statesman ranked her as one of the world’s 50 most influential people in the year 2010.
- Rani Singh wrote a biography called “An Extraordinary Life,an Indian Destiny” on Sonia Gandhi in the year 2011.