Sonia Gandhi Biography
Indian National Congress
Sonia Gandhi born ( 9 December 1946) is an Italian-born Indian politician, who has served as President of the Indian National Congress party since 1998.She is the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi who belonged to the Nehru–Gandhi family. After her husband's assassination in 1991, she was invited by Congress leaders to take over the government but she refused and publicly stayed away from politics amidst constant prodding from the party.She finally agreed to join politics in 1997; in 1998, she was elected President of the Congress party.
She has served as the Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha since 2004. In September 2010, on being re-elected for the fourth time, she became the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the Congress party. Her foreign birth has been a subject of much debate and controversy. Also controversial was her alleged friendship with Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused of being a middleman in the Bofors scandal. Although Sonia is the fifth foreign-born person to be leader of the Congress Party, she is the first since independence in 1947.
Education & Background
She was born to Stefano and Paola Maino in Contrada Maini ("Maini quarter/district"), at Lusiana,a little village 30 km from Vicenza in Veneto,Italy, where families with the family name "Màino" have been living for many generations. She spent her adolescence in Orbassano,a town near Turin, being raised in a traditional Roman Catholic family and attending a Catholic school.Her father, Stefano Maino, was a building mason, who owned a small construction business in OrbassanoStefano fought against the Soviet
military alongside Hitler's Wehrmacht on the eastern front in World War II, he called himself a loyal supporter of Benito Mussolini and Italy's National Fascist Party.He died in 1983.Her mother and two sisters still live around Orbassano.
Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi married in 1968, in a Hindu ceremonyfollowing 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). Despite belonging to the influential Nehru family, Sonia and Rajiv avoided all involvement in politics. Rajiv worked as an airline pilot while Sonia took care of her family.When Indira Gandhi was ousted from office in 1977 in the aftermath of the Indian Emergency, the Rajiv family contemplated to move abroad for a short time.When Rajiv entered politics in 1982 after the death of his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash on 23 June 1980, Sonia continued to focus on her family and avoided all contact with the public.
Soniya Gandhi As Congress President
After Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 and Sonia Gandhi refusedto become Prime Minister, the party settled on the choice of P. V. Narasimha Rao who became leader and subsequently Prime Minister. Over the next few years, however, the Congress fortunes continued to dwindle and it lost the 1996 elections. Several senior leaders such as Madhavrao Sindhia, Rajesh Pilot, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Arjun Singh, Mamata Banerjee, G. K. Moopanar, P. Chidambaram and Jayanthi Natarajan were in open revolt against incumbent President Sitaram Kesri and many of whom quit the party, splitting the Congress into many factions.
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.
In May 1999, three senior leaders of the party (Sharad Pawar, P. A. Sangma, and Tariq Anwar) challenged her right to try to become India's Prime Minister because of her foreign origins. In response, she offered to resignas party leader, resulting in an outpouring of support and the expulsion from the party of the three rebels who went on to form the Nationalist Congress Party.
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. She won both seats but chose to represent Amethi.In Bellary, she had defeated veteran BJP leader, Sushma Swaraj.
Sonia Gandhi in Elections(2004)
In the 2004 general elections, Gandhi launched a nationwide campaign, criss-crossing the country on the Aam Aadmi (ordinary man) slogan in contrast to the 'India Shining' slogan of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) alliance. She countered the BJP asking "Who is India Shining for?” In the election, she was re-elected by a 200,000-vote margin over nearest rival, in the Rae Bareli. 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 defeated NDA protested once again her 'foreign origin' and senior NDA leader Sushma Swaraj threatened to shave her head and "sleep on the ground", among other things, should Sonia become prime minister.The NDA also claimed that there were legal reasons that barred her from the Prime Minister's post. hey pointed, in particular, to Section 5 of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955, which they claimed implied 'reciprocity'. This was contested by othersand eventually the suits were dismissed by the Supreme Court of India.
A few days after the election, Gandhi recommended Manmohan Singh as her choice as prime minister, that the party leaders accepted. Her supporters compared it to the old Indian tradition of renunciation, while her opponents attacked it as a political stunt.
Sonia Gandhi As UPA Chairperson
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 Bareli 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.
She addressed the United Nations on 2 October 2007, Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary which is observed as the international day of non-violence after a UN resolution passed on 15 July 2007.
Under her leadership, the Congress-led UPA won a decisive majority in the 2009 general elections with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister.The Congress itself won 206 Lok Sabha seats, which was then the highest total by any party since 1991.She was also re-elected to a third term as a member of parliament representing Rae Bareli.
In 2013, Gandhi became the first person to serve as Congress President for 15 years consecutively. In the same year, Gandhi condemned the Supreme Court's judgement supporting Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code and backed LGBT rights.
In the 2014 general election, she held her seat in Rae Bareli.However, the Indian National Congress and the Congress-led UPA electoral alliance suffered their worst result in a general election ever, winning only 44 and 59 seats respectively.