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Politics & War

Politics & War

Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi




  • Sonia Maino was born on 9 December 1946 to Stefano and Paola Maino in Lusiana village about 35 km from Vicenza in Veneto, Italy.
  • Sonia spent her adolescence in Orbassano, a town near Turin, and was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic Christian family.She attained primary education attending the local Catholic school.


  • Gandhi has two sisters who still reside in Orbassano along with their mother. Gandhi completed her schooling at the age of 13.
  • In 1964, she went to study English at the Bell Educational Trust’s language school in the city of Cambridge.
  • The following year, she met Rajiv Gandhi at the Varsity Restaurant, while he was enrolled for an engineering degree in the Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.


  • The couple 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 and Rajiv avoided all involvement in politics.
  • Rajiv worked as an airline pilot while Sonia took care of her family. She spent considerable amount of time with her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi.


  • When Rajiv entered politics in 1982 after the death of his younger brotherSanjay Gandhi in a plane crash on 23 June 1980, Sonia continued to focus on her family and avoided all contact with the public.
  • Sonia Gandhi’s involvement with Indian public life began after the assassination of her mother-in-law and her husband’s election as prime minister.
  • In 1984, she actively campaigned against her husband’s sister-in-law Maneka Gandhi who was running against Rajiv in Amethi.


  • At the end of Rajiv Gandhi’s five years in office, the Bofors scandal broke out. After Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 and Sonia Gandhi refused to become Prime Minister, the party settled on the choice of P. V. Narasimha Rao who became leader and subsequently Prime Minister.
  • Several senior leaders 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.
  • 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.


  • She was elected the Leader of the Opposition of the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999. When the BJP-led NDA formed a government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she took the office of the Leader of Opposition.
  • In the 2004 general elections 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).


  • A few days after the election, Gandhi recommended Manmohan Singh as her choice as prime minister, that the party leaders accepted.
  • 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 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 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.
  • Rahul Gandhi took over as the 49th Congress president on 16 December 2017 and taking responsibility of Congress party’s second consecutive loss in general elections held in 2019, resigned from the post of President on May, 25.
  • The Congress Working Committee met on August, 10 to take a final call on the matter and passed a resolution asking Sonia Gandhi to take over as Interim president until a consensus candidate could be picked.