Sonia Gandhi Biography

Sonia Gandhi is an Italian born Indian politician who has held the position of President of the Indian National Congress party since 1998.

Sonia Gandhi
Quick Facts

Birthday: December 9, 1946

Nationality: Indian

Famous: Quotes By Sonia Gandhi Political Leaders

Age: 72 Years, 72 Year Old Females

Sun Sign: Sagittarius

Also Known As: Sonia Maino, Edvige Antonia Albina Maino

Born in: Lusiana

Famous as: President of Congress Party

Height: 5'4" (163 cm), 5'4" Females

political ideology: Political party - Indian National Congress


Spouse/Ex-: Rajiv Gandhi

father: Stefano Maino

mother: Paola Maino

children: Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi

More Facts

education: Bell Educational Trust

Continue Reading Below

Sonia Gandhi is an Italian born Indian politician who has held the position of President of the Indian National Congress party since 1998. She was re-elected to this position for the fourth time in 2010, thus becoming the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the Congress party. She is also the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha, a position she is serving in since 2004. Sonia Gandhi is the first foreign born person to become President of the Congress Party since India’s independence in 1947. Born in Italy, she came to India upon marrying Rajiv Gandhi, a scion of the politically powerful Nehru–Gandhi family, which had long been associated with the Indian National Congress. She kept away from politics during the initial years of her marriage and vehemently refused to enter politics even after the tragic assassination of her husband in 1991. But the dwindling fortunes of the Congress in the ensuing years motivated her to join the party as a primary member and since then she has played a very significant role in Indian politics and is considered a powerful figure in the world political scenario as well. She was named among the ‘Time 100 most influential people’ in the world in 2007 and 2008

Recommended Lists:

Recommended Lists:

Continue Reading Below
Sonia Gandhi
Childhood & Early Life
  • Sonia Gandhi was born as Edvige Antonia Albina Màino on 9 December 1946 in Lusiana, Veneto, Italy, to Stefano and Paola Maino as one of their three daughters. Her father was a building mason who owned a small construction business.
  • Antonia was raised in a traditional Roman Catholic family and went to a Catholic school. Later on, in 1964, she enrolled at the Bell Educational Trust's language school in the city of Cambridge.
  • As a college student, she took up a job as a waitress at a Greek restaurant (the Varsity Restaurant in Cambridge) to pay her bills. There she met a young Indian, Rajiv Gandhi, a scion of the politically powerful Nehru–Gandhi family, who was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Cambridge. The couple soon fell in love and decided to get married.
    Continue Reading Below
Later Years
  • Antonia Maino married Rajiv Gandhi in 1968, in a Hindu ceremony. She took up the name “Sonia Gandhi” and moved into the house of her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi, who was the then Prime Minister of India.
  • Despite belonging to a prominent political family, Rajiv Gandhi was not much interested in politics. He was also not keen on an engineering career and instead pursued his true passion which was flying. He became a commercial airline pilot for Indian Airlines while Sonia settled into the role of a homemaker. The couple avoided all involvement with politics.
  • Indira Gandhi’s younger son, Sanjay, was expected to follow his mother into politics. However Sanjay died in a plane crash in 1980 and Indira Gandhi pressurized Rajiv to enter politics. Initially both Rajiv and Sonia were opposed to the idea though later on Rajiv decided to enter politics, though reluctantly.
  • Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 and Rajiv Gandhi succeeded her as the Prime Minister. As the Prime Minister’s wife Sonia had to become involved with Indian public life.
  • Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991 and being his widow, Sonia was considered by many as the natural heir to the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. She was offered the leadership of the Congress Party but she refused this offer and chose to stay away from politics.
  • She reluctantly changed her stance over the following years as she witnessed the dwindling fortunes of the Congress. She joined the Congress Party as a primary member in the Calcutta Plenary Session in 1997 and became party leader in 1998. She was elected the Leader of the Opposition of the 13th Lok Sabha in 1999.
  • The Congress Party emerged as the single largest party in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Since it failed to secure an absolute majority, the party subsequently formed a new coalition called the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and Sonia Gandhi was chosen to lead the coalition government. She, however, decided not to become the Prime Minister herself and selected the prominent economist Manmohan Singh to serve in this position.
    Continue Reading Below
  • In 2004 she was made the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council and in this position she played a vital role in the enactment of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Information Act in 2005. Sonia Gandhi was forced to resign from the Lok Sabha and as Chairperson of the National Advisory Council in March 2006 after the controversy regarding office-of-profit. As per law, a member of parliament can’t hold an office-of-profit, and the post of chairperson of National Advisory Council came under the purview of office-of-profit.Sonia Gandhi was reelected to parliament in May 2006 and subsequently the government exempted the post of the chairperson of National Advisory Council from the purview of office-of-profit. She again became the Chairperson of the National Advisory Council in 2010, serving till 2014.In 2014 general elections, her party lost the power but she retained her seat in Rae Bareily. Currently, she is the President of Congress Party, the principal opposition party in India.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 2004, Sonia Gandhi was named the third most powerful woman in the world by ‘Forbes’ magazine.
  • In 2006, the Order of Leopold was bestowed upon her by the Government of Belgium.
  • She was listed among "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures" in the year 2010 by ‘New Statesman’.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1965, while living in Cambridge, she met and fell in love with a young Indian student, Rajiv Gandhi, who hailed from a powerful political family. Her family was initially opposed to the match as Rajiv was from a culture very different from their own. However, the couple persisted in their love and got married in 1968. They had two children Rahul and Priyanka.
  • Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991. Sonia chose to remain in India instead of moving back to Italy. She never remarried.
    Continue Reading Below
Net Worth
  • Sonia Gandhi has an estimated net worth of around $2 billion.
Top 10 Facts You Did Not Know About Sonia Gandhi
  • Sonia Gandhi is a cleanliness freak and often does the dusting of her home herself.
  • Her future husband Rajiv Gandhi wrote a poem for her the very first time he saw her—that’s how smitten he was by her beauty!
  • The first Indian movie she watched with Rajiv Gandhi was Satyajit Ray’s ‘Pather Panchali’.
  • She used to call Indira Gandhi, her mother-in-law, “Mummy”.
  • She is an excellent cook and is especially well known for her red chili oil, a base for salad dressing.
  • Her love for books is famous, and she is known for her eclectic taste in literature. She is a big fan of Munshi Premchand’s novels.
  • She has an artistic bent of mind and did an art restoration course from the National Gallery of Modern Art.
  • She is multilingual and can speak nine languages including French and German.
  • Sonia Gandhi is known for her love for handloom sarees, especially traditional weaves.
  • She is committed to a strict fitness regime. She does yoga daily and avoids junk food.

See the events in life of Sonia Gandhi in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Sonia Gandhi Biography
- Editors,
Last Updated
- October 04, 2017

People Also Viewed

Rajiv Gandhi
Priyanka Gandhi
Narendra Modi
Maneka Gandhi

Arvind Kejriwal
Nandan Nilekani
Chittaranjan Das