Sonia Gandhi Biography
Sonia Gandhi was the President of the Indian National Congress party since 1998. While she was working as a waitress at a Greek restaurant, she met Congress leader Indira Gandhi’s son and her future husband Rajiv Gandhi who was then a student of Trinity College.
In her biography of Indira, Katherine Frank writes: “Sonia was terrified at the prospect of meeting Indira, then a minister in [Prime Minister] Shastri’s government, but Indira chatted with her in French (which Sonia spoke more fluently than English) and put her completely at ease by saying ‘she herself had been young, extremely shy and in love, and she understood Sonia perfectly.” Rajiv and Sonia got married on February 25, 1968, and started living in the house of Indira, who was by then the Prime Minister of India.
Sonia was born on 9 December 1946 in Italy’s Contrada Màini district in a village called Lusiana. Her father, Stefano Maino, was in the housing business in Orbassano, the town where Sonia grew up. She went to England in 1964 and enrolled at an English language school in Cambridge city.
She was the wife of Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India who was assassinated in 1991. Their son, Rahul, was born in 1970, and daughter, Priyanka, in 1972.
Sonia Gandhi actively participated in politics after the assassination of her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi in 1984. She campaigned against Maneka Gandhi, who was contesting against her husband in Amethi. After Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, Sonia was persuaded to join the party and also take up the position of Prime Minister. However, she refused.
She joined the party in the Calcutta Plenary Session as a primary member in 1997. In 1998, she became the party leader.
Under Sonia’s leadership, the Congress-led UPA came up with a decisive majority win in the 2009 general elections. The party won 206 Lok Sabha seats, which was then considered the highest by any party since 1991. She was re-elected to a third term and represented Rae Bareli.
She became the first person to serve the party as President for 15 years consecutively in 2013. She retained her seat in Rae Bareli in the 2014 general election, but the Indian National Congress and the Congress-led UPA electoral alliance came up with the worst result, winning only 44 and 59 seats.
Honours and Recognition
- She was named the third most powerful woman in the world and 6th in exclusive list by Forbes magazine in 2007 ,
- She ranked ninth most powerful person on the planet in Forbes magazine in 2010.
- She was in the 21st and 3rd rank in the most powerful woman in Forbes powerful list in 2013.