Sonia Gandhi was born on 9 December 1946, is an Indian politician of Italian manner. A member of the Nehru–Gandhi family, she is an earlier president of the Indian National Congress. Having taken over as the party leader in 1998, seven years after her husband’s assassination, she remained in office for around nineteen years, a period that was characterized by the party’s renewed adherence to the center-left position on the Indian political spectrum. Under her guidance, the Congress went on form the government post the 2004 elections in coalition with other center-left political parties. Sonia has since been credited for being instrumental in formulating the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), which was re-elected to power in 2009. Gandhi refused the premiership following the 2004 victory; she instead led the ruling alliance and the National Advisory Council.
Personal life and family
Sonia Maino was born on December 9, 1946, to Stefano and Paola Maino in Lusiana, a historically Cimbrian-speaking village 30 km from Vicenza in Veneto, Italy. Born in a small rural area near Vicenza, Italy, Sonia was raised in a Roman Catholic Christian family. After accomplishing her primary education at local schools, she moved to Cambridge for higher education and married Rajiv Gandhi in 1968. She later took up Indian citizenship and started living with her mother-in-law, the then-Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. The couple had two children, Rahul Gandhi (born 1970) and Priyanka Vadra (born 1972). Though belonging to the influential Nehru family, Sonia and Rajiv avoided all involvement in politics.
In starting Sonia Gandhi led a quiet life as a housewife, away from public eye and politics. She got joined with Indian public life during her husband’s election as Prime Minister. This was in the bad phase of the assassination of the then Prime Minister, and Sonia’s mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi. In 1984, Sonia Gandhi campaigned positively 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 best official hostess as his wife and also traveled with him on several state visits. After the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, Sonia Gandhi was called 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 head and as the Prime Minister of India.
The Congress party lost the elections in 1996 and continued to struggle, 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.
In 1997, Sonia Gandhi joined Congress in the Calcutta Plenary Session as the main member to revive the position of the party. Soon after this, in 1998, she became the party leader.
Sonia Gandhi became president of the Congress within 62 days of joining the party as a primary member. She had a victory in 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 period of BJP-led NDA government under the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. In her knowledge as the leader of the opposition, she called a no-confidence motion against the government in 2003. Sonia Gandhi holds the category of being the longest-serving president of the Congress party. She has been holding this position since 1998.
The 2004 elections saw her introducing 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 big margin. A Congress-led fifteen-party coalition government was made and named the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Sonia was expected to be the next Prime Minister but faced committed opposition from NDA because of her foreign origin. She chose 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 revealed and the speculation rose that the government plans to bring an 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 high margin of votes.
During her period 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.