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Sonia Gandhi today the leader of the opposition party in the Lok Sabha was born on 9th December 1946 at Lusiana in Veneto, Italy. Her parents were Stefano and Paola Maino. Most of the families in the town of Veneto which was about some 30kms away from Vicenza had their family name as "Maino" and was living in this town for many generations. Sonia Gandhi was raised in accordance with a traditional Roman Catholic and in fact she did go to attend Catholic School.

Sonia Gandhi Sonia Gandhi's father was a building mason and he also owned a small construction business in the town of Orbassano. Sonia Gandhi's father was a big promoter of Benito Mussolini and Italy's National Fascist Party. Stefano Maino took part in the World War II and fought against the Soviet military alongside Hitler's Wehrmacht on the eastern front. Sonia Gandhi at the time of her young adulthood spent her time in Orbassano, a town near Turin.

Sonia's father died in 1983. It was in 1964 when Sonia went to the city of Cambridge to study English at the Bell Educational Trust's language school, she familiar to Rajiv Gandhi, the late Prime Minister of India. Sonia Gandhi happened to meet Rajiv Gandhi at a Greek restaurant in 1965 which is now known as the Varsity Restaurant in Cambridge, she was introduced to Rajiv Gandhi who was registered in Trinity College at the University of Cambridge.

Finally in the year 1968 Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi got married according to the Hindu traditional way. After her marriage she came into the family of the Gandhi's and also into the house of her mother in law, Indira Gandhi who was the then Prime Minister of India. After their marriage in 1968 the couples were blessed with two children Rahul Gandhi who was born in 1970 and Priyanka Vadra who was born in 1972.

Though both Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi had a strong and an influential political background as they were from Nehru family, but still both of them avoided their involvement in politics for Sonia just took care of the family while Rajiv Gandhi worked as an airline pilot. When Indira Gandhi was expelled from office in 1977 in the consequences or after-effects of the Indian Emergency, the Rajiv family decided to move abroad for a short time.

Even after the entry of Rajiv Gandhi into politics followed by the death of his brother Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash on 23 June 1980, Sonia Gandhi still focused herself in taking care of the children and other household. Sonia Gandhi got into active politics only after the death of Rajiv Gandhi. Sonia Gandhi also underwent a major surgery in the United States in 2011 with a complaint of unspecified ailment.

According to the media news it was stated that the operation took place at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The Guardian in March 2013 listed and awarded Sonia Gandhi as one among the fifty best-dressed over 50s. Sonia Gandhi always dresses up in a very simple manner and looks no further than mother-in-law Indira Gandhi's "innate sense of fashion".

According to a written statement confirmed by affirmation at the time of 2014 General Election Sonia had declared assets worth Rs 92.8 million - Rs 28.1 million in movable and Rs 64.7 million in immovable properties. The most notable point is that the value of her assets has been increased to about six fold times since the pronouncement in her last election.

Sonia Gandhi's Entry into Politics

Sonia Gandhi For many years Sonia Gandhi stayed away from the eyes of the public and she had no idea about politics. It was only when her husband Rajiv Gandhi got into politics and decided to compete in the election for Prime Minister, she got slowly in touch with the Indian Public life and this in fact happened only after the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was the mother of Rajiv Gandhi.

It was during the 1984 Lok Sabha election Sonia Gandhi for the first time campaigned actively against Maneka Gandhi, her sister-in-Law (wife of Sanjay Gandhi, the younger brother of Rajiv Gandhi), who was contesting against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi. But however in the 1984 General Lok Sabha election Rajiv Gandhi won and became the Prime Minister of India. Sonia Gandhi as Rajiv Gandhi's wife played a very clear role of an official hostess and also accompanied him wherever he travelled.

But however unfortunately in the year 1991 Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated which came as major shock to the country and Sonia Gandhi. After the death of Rajiv Gandhi she was insisted by the Congress party to become as its member and take up the posting of Prime Minister. This offer was turned down by Sonia Gandhi and then the Congress party had to choose P. V. Narasimha Rao as their leader and as the Prime Minister of India.

However in the 1996 elections the Congress Party lost the election and continued to diminish gradually in its strength and size when senior leaders of the party like P. Chidambaram, Madhavrao Scindhia, Arjun Singh, Rajesh Pilot and Mamata Banerjee exhibited their hostility for the then incumbent President of the party- Sri Sitaram Kesari. There was lot of splits happening at this time in the Congress Party.

In order to give a new strength and energy to the split and weak Congress party, Sonia Gandhi joined Congress in the Calcutta Plenary Session as a primary member in the year 1997. Followed by this Sonia Gandhi became the party leader in the year 1998.

Sonia Gandhi's Political activities and achievements

Sonia Gandhi In the year 1999 Sonia Gandhi contested from the constituency of Bellary, Uttar Pradesh and in fact she won the election defeating Sushma Swaraj, a veteran Bharatiya Janata Party leader. Even after this victory Sonia Gandhi won in the subsequent elections in 2004 and 2009 and was re- elected as the Lok Sabha member from Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.

In the year 1999 and in the 13th Lok Sabha election Sonia Gandhi held the posting of Leader of Opposition at the time of National Democratic Alliance government which was led by the Bharatiya Janata Party headed by Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee. In 2003 Sonia Gandhi called in for a no confidence motion as a leader of the opposition party against the then ruing government.

At the time of 2004 elections the country witnessed Sonia Gandhi coming up with a nationwide campaign featuring the slogan of "Aam Aadmi" which was a protest to the "India Shining" slogan of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by Bharatiya Janata Party. In fact in the year Sonia Gandhi competed from the Rae Bareilly constituency and she won the election with a difference of a large margin. After winning the Lok Sabha election Congress formed a coalition government involving fifteen parties and was named as the United Progressive Alliance or UPA.

Though many a time there were suggestions for Sonia Gandhi to become the Prime Minister of India, it was rejected by the staunch opposition of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the fact that she is by birth a foreign origin. Thus Manmohan Singh was made the next Prime Minster of India on behalf of the Congress. It is to be noted Sonia Gandhi takes the credit of being the President of Congress Party continuously for more than 1o consecutive areas.

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 transpired and the speculation rose that the government plans to bring ordinance to exempt the Chairman's post of National Advisory Council from the purview of office of profit. Sonia Gandhi played a major role in enacting the Right to Information Act and National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme when she was the Chairman of the UPA government and the National Advisory Committee.

Sonia Gandhi also declared the International Day of Non-Violence to be celebrated on 2nd October 2007 at the eve of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The United Nations passed this resolution on 15 th July 2007. In the 2009 general Lok Sabha election once again the Congress Party led by the leadership of Sonia Gandhi once again came to power with Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister of India.

Honours and Recognition awarded to Sonia Gandhi

Sonia Gandhi 2004 - Sonia Gandhi was mentioned as the world's third most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine.

2006 - Sonia Gandhi received an honorary Doctorate from the Brussels University.

2006 - The Government of Belgium also honoured her with the Order of King Leopold.

2007 - He was mentioned as the world's sixth most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine.

2007 - 2008 - Sonia Gandhi was named as one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time.

2008 - Sonia Gandhi received the Honorary Doctorate in Literature from the University of Madras.

2009 - Sonia Gandhi was mentioned as the world's ninth-most powerful woman by the Forbes magazine.

2010 - New Statesman, a British magazine, ranked her among fifty most influential people of the world