Mrs. Sonia Gandhi
Mrs. Sonia Maino (Sonia Gandhi) was born on December 9, 1946 in the town of Orbassano (Near Turin), to a building contractor and his wife. She was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic household. In 1964, she went to Cambridge to study English at a language school. She met Mr. Rajiv Gandhi there who was studying Engineering at the University. The couple married in 1968 and she moved into the house of her mother-in-law and the then Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi. Although, she has learnt Hindi, she is not a fluent speaker of the language.
After the assassination of Mr. Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991 she did not intend to enter the politics besides being pressured by the Congress Party. But in 1998, she formally entered the politics assuming the helm of the Congress Party and declaring herself a candidate for Prime Minister. But her initial efforts were overshadowed by party’s humiliating defeat by the B. J. P. in the 1999 elections. Later on, she largely through her family name was able to draw large crowds and nearly single-handedly revitalised the Party. However, she remained a somewhat enigmatic figure and her opposition constantly played off the fact that she was foreign-born and was not a fluent Hindi speaker.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the most familiar figure in Amethi, her husband’s rural parliamentary constituency in the northern region of Uttar Pradesh. In the 2004 elections she launched an aggressive campaigning. She had been tipped to be the Prime Minister of India following the Party’s surprise victory in the elections. She was unanimously voted to lead a 19-party coalition government.
Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has presented an ideal instance of service and sacrifice, in announcing that she does not intend to become the Prime Minister. On May 18, 2004 a day before her scheduled nomination, she addressed a meeting of Congress lawmakers and declined to become Prime Minister. Amid indignant shouts from her supporters she said, “I request you to accept my decision and recognize that I will not reverse it. It is my inner voice, my conscience.” Later, hundreds gathered outside Gandhi’s home in New Delhi. A former provincial Congress legislator held a revolver and threatened to commit suicide against her decision.
However, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is the latest torchbearer of Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. She is the chairperson of ruling United Progressive Alliance. She is representing the Rai Bareilly parliamentary constituency. Gandhi name is still revered in India and Congress looked to Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to translate that feeling into votes.