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Celebrities - Sonia Gandhi
Map of the Heavens, Planets, Astrological Chart, Horoscope
Born December 9, 1946 at 9:30 PM in Lusiana (Italie)
Sun in 17°11 Sagitarius, AS in 20°18 Leo,
Moon in 2°58 Cancer, MC in 9°27 Taurus
Chinese Astrology: Fire Dog
Numerology: Birthpath 5

Biography of Sonia GANDHI

Sonia Gandhi born Sonia Antonia Maino on December 9, 1946, is an Italian-born Indian politician, the President of the Indian National Congress and the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. She is the Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha, and the leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party. She was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in the year 2004 and currently ranks 6th . She was also named among the Time 100 most influential people in the world in 2007 She was returned to Parliament by a margin of over 400,000 votes in the recently held by-election for Rae Bareilly after the office of profit controversy.

Early life

Born to Stefano and Paola Maino, as Sonia Antonia Maino, in Lusiana, a little village 50 km from Vicenza, Italy, she spent her adolescence in Orbassano, a town near Turin being raised in a Roman Catholic family and attending a Catholic school. Her father, a building contractor and reportedly former Fascist Party member, died in 1983. Her mother and two sisters still live around Orbassano.

In 1964, she went to study English at The Bell Educational Trust's language school in the city of Cambridge. While doing this certificate course she met Rajiv Gandhi, who was enrolled at the time in Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. They were married in 1969, after which she moved into the house of her mother-in-law and then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

She acquired Indian citizenship in 1983. The couple had two children, Rahul Gandhi (born 1970) and Priyanka Gandhi (born 1972).

Despite the family's heavy involvement in politics (her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, was Prime Minister), Sonia and Rajiv avoided all involvement - Rajiv worked as an airline pilot, and Sonia took care of her family. When Indira was ousted from office in 1977 and when Rajiv entered politics in 1982, Sonia continued to focus on her family and avoided all contact with publicity.

Political career

Wife of the Prime Minister

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. As the Prime Minister's wife she acted as his official hostess and also accompanied him on a number of state visits. She was also involved in looking after her husband's constituency of Amethi. In 1984, she actively campaigned against her 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, and Ottavio Quattrocchi an Italian business man believed to be involved, was said to be a friend of Sonia Gandhi having access to the Prime Minister's official residence.

Congress President

Following her husband's assassination on May 21, 1991, there were calls for her to enter politics by members of the Congress Party. Sonia was vehement in her denunciation of politics and politicians. She is said to have stated that she would have rather seen her children beg than enter into the maelstrom of Indian political life. After her refusal, the party settled on the choice of P V Narasimha Rao as leader and, subsequently, Prime Minister. The Congress fortunes continued to dwindle and it was feared that it would no longer be the largest party in parliament. Several senior leaders such as Madhavrao Scindia, Rajesh Pilot, Mamata Banerjee, G K Moopanar, P.Chidambaram, Jayanthi Natarajan etc were in open revolt against the incumbent President Sitaram Kesri and quit the party, splitting the Congress into many factions.

Sonia joined the Congress Party as a primary member in the Calcutta Plenary Session at 1997..

She officially took charge of the Congress party as its president in 1998 becoming the fifth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family and the eighth foreign-born person to become Congress President, and the third foreign-born woman, following Annie Besant and Nellie Sengupta. She was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999 from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh as well as Bellary in Karnataka.

Leader of the Opposition

She was elected the Leader of the Opposition of the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999. During her campaign, her opponents (mainly the Bharatiya Janata Party) played up her foreign birth, her failure to take Indian citizenship for 15 years after her wedding, and her lack of fluency in Hindi or any Indian language despite her assertion that she had "become an Indian in her heart the day she became Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law". In May 1999, Sonia Gandhi offered to resign from the Congress Party leadership after three senior leaders (Sharad Pawar, Purno A. Sangma and Tariq Anwar) challenged her right to try to become India's Prime Minister, given that she was not born of Indian blood or soil.

Despite her party not having a majority, she told the President that she had the numbers to form the government but the final numbers fell short of 272.

When the BJP-led NDA formed a government under Atal Behari Vajpayee, she took on the office of the Leader of Opposition. As Leader of Opposition she called a no-confidence motion against the NDA government led by Vajpayee in 2003. The motion was moved after the Defence Ministry refused to disclose the findings of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) probe into the allegations of corruption in purchase of caskets during the Kargil War. While the motion was resoundingly defeated in the NDA dominated house, she used the opportunity to kick off the Congress' election campaign. In her own speech to open the debate, she accused the government of ineptness in handling the Kargil crisis and the violence in the North East. She also charged the government ministers with profiteering from the war. In their replies the government did not answer any questions raised by Mrs Gandhi but focused their attack on her "foreign origins."

2004 elections and aftermath

In the 2004 general elections, Gandhi launched a nationwide campaign, criss-crossing the country on the Aam Aadmi (Ordinary people) 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 won by a large margin in the Rae Bareilly constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Following the unexpected defeat of the NDA, she was widely expected to be the next Prime Minister of India. On May 16, 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).

Amidst a storm of controversy raised by the NDA over her 'foreign origin' in which leaders like Sushma Swaraj threatened to shave their hair, as a protest, among others, Gandhi declined the leadership of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha. That position would have indicated that she was the party's nominee for Prime Minister. Her action was hailed as an act of renunciation, while her opponents attacked it as a political stunt in which the ultimate aim was to gain an absolute m
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