Sonia Gandhi is an Italian-born Indian politician & was born to Stefano and Paola Maino in Contrada Màini , at Lusiana, alittle village 30 km from Vicenza in Veneto, Italy. Her father, Stefano Maino, was a building mason, who owned a small construction business in Orbassano. He died in 1983. Her mother and two sisters still live around Orbassano.
In 1964, she went to study English at the Bell Educational Trust’s language school in the city of Cambridge. There ,She met Rajiv Gandhi & got married in 1968, in a Hindu ceremony following which she moved into the house of her mother-in-law and then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi. The couple had two children, Rahul Gandhi (born 1970) and Priyanka Vadra (born 1972).
Sonia Gandhi’s involvement with Indian public life began after the assassination of her mother-in-law and her husband’selection as Prime Minister. In 1984, she actively campaigned against her husband’s sister-in-law Maneka Gandhi who was running against Rajiv in Amethi. Italian nationality law did not permit dual nationality until 1992. So, by acquiring Indian citizenship in 1983, she would automatically have lost Italian citizenship.
In an effort to revive the party’s sagging fortunes, she joined the Congress Party as a primary member in the Calcutta Plenary Session in 1997 and became party leader in 1998. Within 62 days of joining as a primary member, she was offered the party President post which she accepted. She contested Lok Sabha elections from Bellary, Karnataka and Amethi, Uttar Pradesh in 1999. In Bellary she defeated veteran BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj. In 2004 and 2009, she was re-elected to the Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh. She was elected the Leader of the Opposition of the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999. As Leader of Opposition, she called a no-confidence motion against the NDA government led by Vajpayee in 2003.She holds the record of having served as Congress President for 10 years consecutively.
In the 2004 general elections she won by a large margin in the Rae Bareilly constituency. Following the unexpected defeat of the NDA, she was widely expected to be the next Prime Minister of India. On 16 May, she was unanimously chosen to lead a 15-party coalition government with the support of the left, which was subsequently named the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). The NDA also claimed that there were legal reasons that barred her from the Prime Minister’s post. A few days after the election, Gandhi appointed Manmohan Singh as prime minister. Her supporters compared it to the old Indian tradition of renunciation, while her opponents attacked it as a political stunt.
On 23 March 2006, Gandhi announced her resignation from the Lok Sabha and also as chairperson of the National Advisory Council under the office-of-profit controversy and the speculation that the government was planning to bring an ordinance to exempt the post of chairperson of National Advisory Council from the purview of office of profit. She was re-elected from her constituency Rae Bareilly in May 2006 by a margin of over 400,000 votes.
As chairperson of the National Advisory Committee and the UPA, she played an important role in making the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Information Act into law
Under her leadership, India returned the Congress-led-UPA to a near majority in the 2009 general elections with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister.
Sonia was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013. She follows the style quote ” Simple is Stylish” and looks no further than mother-in-law Indira Gandhi’s “innate sense of fashion”.Sonai Gandhi was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine in the year 2004 and was ranked 6th in 2007.
The British magazine New Statesman listed Sonia Gandhi at number 29 in their annual survey of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures” in the year 2010.