Sonia Gandhi (December 9, 1946 – present) is an Indian politician of Italian descent. She is the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with whom she had two children, Rahul and Priyanka. In 1983 Sonia became a naturalised Indian citizen but it wasn’t until 1997 that she began to engage in Indian politics. She is the longest serving president of the Indian National Congress (INC), and its only foreign-born leader post independence.
Sonia Gandhi was born Edvige Antonia Albina Maino, the daughter of Stefano and Paola Maino. After completing her secondary education at a Catholic school in Italy, she went on to study English at the Bell’s Educational trust in the town of Cambridge. There she met Rajiv Gandhi, who was attending Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. The couple married and moved to India where they stayed out of politics and the public eye even though her mother-in-law, Indira, was the Prime Minister at the time. It wasn’t until her husband held the Prime Minister’s office that she became a known figure in India.
For a long time after her husband’s assassination Sonia Gandhi stayed away from the Indian political arena. She finally joined politics in the mid 90’s when the popularity of the INC was dwindling, and was invited to become a primary party member. Sonia was offered the position of the head of the party just 62 days after she stepped into politics, and by 1999 Ms Gandhi was elected Leader of the Opposition.
In 2004, Sonia Gandhi won the general elections from her constituency in Rae Bareilly. The opposition claimed that it was unconstitutional for her to take up the Prime Minister’s office but to avoid complications within the newly formed government Sonia Gandhi appointed party member Manhomahan Singh in her stead while she maintained her role as the head of the INC.
The Veneto, the region where Sonia Gandhi comes from has been a maritime republic for over a millennium. One of the largest events in Venice is the Carnivale. Look for information about the masquerade held in Venice every year.
To read more interesting biographies of famous people, browse though our huge collection of short biographies for kids.