Sonia Gandhi - Biography

Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi is an Indian Politician. She is also the former President of the Indian National Congress. The Indian National Congress is the party that governed India for most of its post-independence history. Her husband, the sixth Prime Minister of India got assassinated in 1997. After seven years of his assassination, in 1998 she took over as the party’s president. She remained as the President of the Indian National Congress for nineteen years.

Sonia joined the party after much pleading in 1997. She got nominated later that year for party President. The INC went forth to form the government post-2004 elections. They formed a coalition government with other center-left political parties. She is since considered as an important factor in the formulation of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The UPA government was re-elected to power in 2009.

She presided over the advisory councils credited for the formation and after implementation of various right based development and welfare schemes. These included the Right to Information and Food security bill. She was also part of the advisory council of MNREGA. She drew various criticism related to the Bofors scandal. She also had criticism for the National Herald Case. Her active participation in politics reduced. It happened during the second term of the UPA government due to health issues. She finally stepped down as the Congress President in 2017. Gandhi is often seen as one of the most powerful politicians in India. Although she never held any public office in the government. She is often listed among the most powerful women in the
world.

Early Life

Sonia Maino was born to Stefano and Paola Maino on 9th December 1946. She was born in Lusiana(in Maini Street) which is a Cimbrian speaking village. It is about 35km from Vicenza in Veneto, Itlay. She grew up in a traditional Roman Catholic Christian family. She spent most of her adolescence in Orbassano. It is a town near Turin. She received her primary education from local catholic schools. His father Stefano was a building mason. He established a small construction business in Orbassano. He had fought the Soviet military on the eastern front in World War II alongside Hitler. He was a loyal supporter of Benito Mussolini and Itlay’s National
Fascist Party. He named Sonia and her elder sister Nadia in memory of the Italian participation in the East Front.

Meeting with Rajiv Gandhi

She went to study English at the Bell Education Trust’s language school in the city of Cambridge in 1964. She met Rajiv Gandhi the following year. They met at Varsity Restaurant where she worked as a part-time waitress. Rajiv Gandhi was studying for an engineering degree. He was studying at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. They got married in 1968 in a Hindu
Ceremony. Later, Sonia moved into the house of her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law was at the time Prime Minister of India, Indra Gandhi. Sonia and Rajiv had two children. They were Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra. The couple always avoided all involvement in politics. Rajiv joined politics after the death of his brother Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash in 1980. Sonia
still avoided all contact with the public and continued to focus on her family.



Political Carrier

Wife of the Prime Minister

Sonia’s involvement began after the assassination of her mother-in-law. Also after her husband’s election as the Prime Minister. She accompanied her husband on many state visits. She acted as his official hostess. She campaigned against her husband’s sister-in-law Maneka Gandhi. Maneka ran against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi in 1984.

Congress President

PM Rajiv Gandhi got assassinated in 1991. After that Sonia Gandhi refused to become the Prime Minister. The party settled on the choice of P.V. Narasimha Rao. The fortune of Congress continued to dwindle the over next few years. They lost the 1996 general elections. Senior leaders such as Madhavrao Sindhia, Rajesh Pilot, Arjun Singh, etc were in open revolt against incumbent President Sitaram Kesari. Many of them quit the party, thus splitting the Congress into many factions.

Sonia Gandhi later joined the Congress party to revive the party’s sagging fortunes. She became a primary member of the Calcutta Plenary Session in 1997 and became party leader in 1998. Three senior leaders of the party( Sharad Pawar, P.A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar) challenged her right to become the PM in 1999. It was because of her foreign origin. She in response resigned as party leader. This resulted in an outpouring of support and the expulsion from the party of the three rebels. They went on to form the Nationalist Congress Party. Within 62 days of Sonia joining the party as a primary member, she got the offer to become the party, President. She accepted the offer. She participated in the Lok Sabha elections in 1999. She contested from Bellary, Karnataka and Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. She chose to represent Amethi after winning both the seats. She defeated the veteran BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj in Bellary.

Leader of the Opposition

She got elected in 13th Lok Sabha as the Leader of the Opposition in 1999. The BJP-led NDA, under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, formed a government. She called for a no-confidence motion against the NDA government in 2003.

Personal Life

Sonia Gandhi is the widow of Indra Gandhi’s eldest son Rajiv Gandi. Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi are Sonia’s two children.

She underwent surgery for cervical cancer in the USA. It was at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre in New York in August 2011. She returned to India after her treatment on 9th September 2012.

Sonia got listed by the Guardian as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50’s in March of 2013.

Sonia had declared assets worth Rs. 92.8-28.1 million in moveable and Rs. 64.7 million in immovable. It was according to an affidavit filed during the 2014 Indian general elections.

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