Sonia Gandhi, an Italian born Indian politician is the Chairperson of the United Progress Alliance, an alliance of parties which ruled India from 2004-14 and now plays the role of opposition in the Indian parliament. She holds record of being longest serving (19 years) president of Congress party, which was founded in 1885.
rnWhat defines the now 73 year old Sonia Gandhi’s journey in Indian politics is her smooth transition from a daughter-in-law of the most influential Nehru-Gandhi family to an active politician.
rnAs per an article published in the Britannica, Sonia Gandhi was born as Edvige Antonia Albina Maino to an Italian couple in the region of Lusiana, Veneto in Italy. While having her education in English literature in Cambridge, she met Rajiv Gandhi, the son of the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi. Rajiv, at that time was the student of Mechanical Engineering in the University of Cambridge.
rn They got married and the couple moved to India. While Rajiv concentrated his career as a commercial pilot, Sonia focused on her family raising her kids Rahul and Sonia.
rnIn 1984 her mother in law, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her guards at her official residence. Her husband Rajiv had to take the mantle to fill the vacuum created due ho Indira Gandhi’s death.
rnThough Sonia would often campaign for her husband during elections, she would hardly appear in other political events. She would spend her time in restoring India’s artistic treasures.
rnIn the year 1991, Rajiv Gandhi too was killed in a suicide bomber attack and Sonia closeted herself and her children from active political life.
rnDespite numerous appeals to take the reins of her party, she never participated in active politics for a period of seven long years. Only in the 1998 she took over the role of the party’s President.
rnThough she won from Bellary in Karnataka and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, in the 1999 Lok Sabha polls, her party could not get hold of power.
rnIn the year 2004, she was successful in ousting the Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After securing 114 number of seats in 2004 election her party stitched an alliance with like-minded parties and formed the UPA.
rnSoon after the 2004 win, Sonia Gandhi was offered the post of the Prime Minister of India, which she abdicated which called a decision taken listening to the inner voice.
rnSignificantly, immediately after the Congress functionaries announced that Sonia Gandhi would swear in as the Prime Minister of India, the BJP caused a massive protest citing her foreign origin.
rnSonia Gandhi’s decision to abdicate the position of the Prime Minister, was one of the most talked of political developments of that time.
rnThe Sonia Gandhi led UPA alliance stayed in power till 2014, when the BJP projected the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate. The BJP had a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls. Modi returned to power with greater majority in 2019 parliamentary election but Sonia continues to chair UPA and being patron of Congress party.
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