|Full name||Antonia Edvige Albina Maino|
|DOB||9 Dec 1946|
|Place of Birth||Lusiana, Veneto, Italy|
|Profession before joining politics|| Political and Social Worker|
|Spouse Name||Rajiv Gandhi|
|Children||Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka|
- Italy (1946–1983)
- India (1983–present)
|Political party||Indian National Congress|
|Alma mater||Bell Educational Trust|
|Important positions held|| |
- President, Indian National Congress Chairperson (March 1998 - Dec 2017)
- Chairperson of the National Advisory Council (March 2010 – May 2014)
- Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (May 2004 Onwards)
- Leader of the Opposition (March 1998 - May 2004)
- Member of the Indian Parliament for Rae Bareli
- Member of the Indian Parliament for Rae Bareli (Oct 1999 – May 2004)
About Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi is an Italian-born Indian politician and former President of the Indian National Congress party. She belongs to the third generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family. She was born as Edvige Antonia Albina Maino in Italy on 9 December, 1946. Sonia Gandhi is the widow of former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. She joined politics in 1997 amidst constant requests from Congress party members after the demise of her husband Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991.
Sonia's foreign origin has been a subject of controversy and debate in Indian politics. She is the first foreign-born to lead the national party since Independence. Sonia Gandhi formerly held the position of President of the Indian National Congress Party, which is one of the oldest and most powerful parties in Indian politics. She served as the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance, which was in power at the Centre for two consecutive terms. Sonia Gandhi is the longest serving president of the Congress party.
Sonia Gandhi was born on 9 December 1946 in Contrada Miani at Lusiana. It is a small village about 30 km from Vicenza, Veneto in Italy, where the Mianos lived for generations. She belonged to a Roman Catholic family and spent her adolescence in a town called Orbassano near Turin. Her parents were Stefano Miano and Paola Miano. Her father had a small construction business and was himself a building mason. She studied in a Catholic school in Orbassano and then went to the city of Cambridge in 1964 to study English in a school under the Bell Education Trust. She worked at the Varsity Restaurant and met Rajiv Gandhi in 1965 there. Rajiv Gandhi was studying in Trinity College at the Cambridge University then.
In 1968, they got married in a Hindu ceremony, after which she shifted to the house of her mother-in-law, the then Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The couple had two children, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi. While Rajiv Gandhi was a professional airline pilot before joining politics in 1982, Sonia Gandhi remained a housewife and kept away from public eye and politics until she was convinced to join Indian politics in 1997 by the Congress party.
Sonia Gandhi Elections result
|Year||Constituency ||State ||Status|
|2014||Rae Bareli||Uttar Pradesh||Won|
|2009||Rae Bareli||Uttar Pradesh||Won|
How did Sonia Gandhienter politics
Sonia Gandhi led a quiet life as a housewife, away from public eye and politics. She got connected with Indian public life during her husband’s election as Prime Minister. This was the aftermath of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was the mother of Rajiv Gandhi. In 1984, Sonia Gandhifor the first time campaigned actively against Maneka Gandhi, her sister-in-Law (wife of Sanjay Gandhi, the younger brother of Rajiv Gandhi), who was contesting against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi. Rajiv Gandhi won the election and became the Prime Minister of India.
Sonia Gandhiplayed the perfect official hostess as his wife and also travelled with him on several state visits. Unfortunately Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991. Soon after this, the party invited Sonia Gandhito join as a member and take up the post of Prime Minister, which she refused. After her disinclination the party chose P. V. Narasimha Rao as their leader and as the Prime Minister of India. The Congress party lost the elections in 1996 and continued to dwindle, when senior leaders, including P. Chidambaram, Madhavrao Scindhia, Arjun Singh, Rajesh Pilot and Mamata Banerjee showed their resentment for the then incumbent President of the party- Sri Sitaram Kesari. Congress saw several splits during this period.
Entry in Politics
Initially, Sonia Gandhi led a quiet life as a housewife, away from public eye and politics. She got connected with Indian public life during her husband’s election as Prime Minister. This was in the aftermath of the assassination of the then Prime Minister, and Sonia's mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. In 1984, Sonia Gandhi campaigned actively for the first time against Maneka Gandhi, her sister-in-law (wife of Sanjay Gandhi, the younger brother of Rajiv Gandhi). Maneka was contesting against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi. Rajiv Gandhi won the election and became the Prime Minister of India.
Sonia Gandhi played the perfect official hostess as his wife and also travelled with him on several state visits. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, Sonia Gandhi was invited to join the party and take up the post of Prime Minister, which she refused. After her disinclination, the party chose P. V. Narasimha Rao as their leader and as the Prime Minister of India.
The Congress party lost the elections in 1996 and continued to dwindle, when senior leaders, including P. Chidambaram, Madhavrao Scindia, Arjun Singh, Rajesh Pilot and Mamata Banerjee showed their resentment against the then incumbent president of the party, Sitaram Kesari. The party underwent several splits during this period.
In 1997, Sonia Gandhi joined Congress in the Calcutta Plenary Session as a primary member to revive the position of the party. Soon after this, in 1998, she became the party leader.
Achievements of Sonia Gandhi
- Sonia Gandhi became president of the Congress within 62 days of joining the party as a primary member.
- She won the Lok Sabha elections in 1999 from Bellary, Uttar Pradesh, defeating senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj.
- She was re-elected as Lok Sabha member from Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, twice (2004 and 2009).
- Sonia Gandhi was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha as Leader of Opposition in 1999 during the tenure of BJP-led NDA government under the prime-ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee.
- In her capacity as the leader of opposition, she called a no-confidence motion against the government in 2003.
- Sonia Gandhi holds the record of being the longest-serving president of the Congress party. She has been holding this position since 1998.
- The 2004 elections saw her launching a nationwide campaign with the "Aam Aadmi" slogan to counter the BJP's “India Shining” slogan.
- She won the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareilly constituency with a huge margin. A Congress-led fifteen-party coalition government was formed and named the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
- Sonia was expected to be the next Prime Minister but faced staunch opposition from NDA because of her foreign origin. She appointed Manmohan Singh as the next Prime Minister of India.
- She declared her resignation from the Lok Sabha and as chairperson of national Advisory Council on 23 March 2006, after the office-of-profit controversy transpired and the speculation rose that the government plans to bring ordinance to exempt the Chairperson’s post of National Advisory Council from the purview of office of profit.
- Sonia got re-elected from Rae Bareilly in May 2006 with a large margin of votes.
- During her tenure as Chairperson of the UPA government and the National Advisory Committee, she was instrumental in enacting the Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
- On 2 October 2007, on the eve of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, she addressed the United Nations. The UN passed a resolution on 15 July 2007, after which, this day is observed as the International Day of Non-Violence.
- In the 2009 General Elections, the Congress-led UPA government came back to power, with Congress winning 206 seats in the Lok Sabha, the highest ever by any party after 1991. Manmohan Singh was re-appointed as the Prime Minister for a second term.
Controversies Surrounding Sonia Gandhi
- During the Bofors Scandal, the name of an Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi came out, who was believed to be a friend of Sonia Gandhi and had access to the Prime Minister’s official residence.
- In 1980, while she was still an Italian citizen, Sonia Gandhi’s name appeared in the list of voters, which is a violation of Indian law.
- The same issue cropped up again when her name appeared in the voters list in 1983 because the deadline for registering was January, 1983 while she acquired Indian Citizenship in April, 1983.
- Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and P. A. Sangma, the three senior leaders of the Congress party, questioned her eligibility for the post of Prime Minister in May, 1999. Sonia Gandhi offered her resignation as party leader, which resulted in ebullient support for her and eviction of the three members from the party.
Honours and recognition received by Sonia Gandhi
In 2004, Sonia Gandhi was mentioned as the world’s third most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine.
In 2006, Sonia Gandhi received an honorary Doctorate from the Brussels University.
In 2006, the Government of Belgium also honoured her with the Order of King Leopold.
In 2007, she was named the world’s sixth most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine.
She was named as one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time in 2007 and 2008.
In 2008, she received the Honorary Doctorate in Literature from University of Madras.
In 2009, Sonia Gandhi was mentioned as the world’s ninth-most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine.
In 2010, New Statesman, a British magazine, ranked her among fifty most influential people of the world.
Books on Sonia Gandhi
'Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life
An Indian Destiny', a Biography written by Rani Singh brings forth the struggles and events in the life of Sonia Gandhi and her family. Gandhi's story typifies one of the greatest transformational journeys made by any Indian political leader. Singh shows how situations and tragedy and not ambition guided her path to power. The book begins with the love between Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi, and then goes on to describe her entry into Indian politics.
'Sonia Gandhi: Tryst with India'
by Nurul Islam Sarkar is a tribute to Sonia Gandhi's amiability, courage and unselfish service. Gandhi considered to be an icon of Indian politics, is an inspiration for many. The book talks about her leadership qualities and achievements by virtue of which she leads the Congress party. It not only talks about her political life but also her personal life and reveals some unknown truths.
Rasheed Kidwai's 'Sonia: A Biography'
tells the exceptional story of one of India's most enigmatic women. He describes her journey from the small Italian town to 10 Janpath, New Delhi. It gives a vivid picture of the growth of Sonia Gandhi against the backdrop of the Congress party's return to power. The book reveals the transformation of Gandhi from an uncertain party president to the head of the UPA government after the victory in 2004 general election.
Books written by Sonia Gandhi
'Indira Gandhi: Selected Sayings'
contains various quotations taken from her speeches. These quotations reveal her vision, her wide range of interests, and her perceptive mind. In other words, it reflects her warmth for the people of the country and her commitment to the unity of India. Her life was entangled with the history and destiny of modern India. The book strives to show other facets of her personality apart from politics.
'Two Alone, Two Together'
, authored by Sonia Gandhi, contains selected letters that were a part of conversation between Jawaharlal Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi. The letters give new insights into the nature and personality of two of the most eminent personalities of India. It maps Indira Gandhi's transformation from a shy schoolgirl into a magnetic political leader. The letters show the love of nature and books that the two shared and brings forth their frank views on various subjects, ranging from family to politics.
Last Updated on Sept 09, 2020