Ahead of her son Rahul Gandhi's slated takeover as the Congress president, outgoing President Sonia Gandhi, on Friday, told reporters that she will now retire from politics.
Ahead of her son Rahul Gandhi’s slated takeover as the Congress president, outgoing President Sonia Gandhi, on Friday, told reporters that she will now retire from politics. She said, “My role is now to retire.” Sonia Gandhi had been the Congress President for the last 19 years. In an effort to revive the party’s sagging fortunes following former PM PV Narasimha Rao losing the 1996 elections, Sonia became the party chief in 1998. Since, then she had played a pivotal role in the rise of the grand old party. Sonia Gandhi, who turned 71 on December 9, was even termed as the “super prime minister” by the opposition owing to her influence on the previous UPA government led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Her retirement is no less than an end of an era. She hasn’t clarified about what her future role in the party will be as yet. Her 47-year-old son, Rahul Gandhi is officially set to take charge on Saturday. Here are the highlights in the veteran leader’s life in a nutshell:
1. Sonia Gandhi was born as Edvige Antonia Albina Maino in Italy on 9 December, 1946.
2. She studied in a Catholic school in Orbassano and then went to the city of Cambridge in 1964 to study English in a school under the Bell Education Trust.
3. She worked at the Varsity Restaurant and met Rajiv Gandhi in 1965 there. Rajiv Gandhi was studying in Trinity College at the Cambridge University then.
4. In 1968, they got married in a Hindu ceremony, after which she shifted to the house of her mother-in-law, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.
5. Sonia Gandhi is blessed with two children, Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi.
6. Sonia Gandhi, after marriage, chose to remain a housewife and kept away from public eye and politics.
7. She got connected with Indian public life during her husband’s election as Prime Minister in the aftermath of the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
8. Post the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the Congress party invited Sonia Gandhi to join as a member and take up the post of Prime Minister, which she refused.
9. The Congress party lost the elections in 1996 and saw several splits during this period.
10. In 1997, Sonia Gandhi joined Congress in the Calcutta Plenary Session as a primary member to revive the position of the party. Soon after this, in 1998, she became the party leader.
11. Sonia Gandhi was elected to the 13th Lok Sabha as Leader of Opposition in 1999 during the tenure of BJP-led NDA government under the prime ministership of Atal Behari Vajpayee.
12. As the leader of opposition, she called a no-confidence motion against the government in 2003.
13. She won the 2004 Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareilly constituency with a huge margin. A Congress-led fifteen-party coalition government was formed and named the United Progressive Alliance.
14. Sonia was expected to be the next Prime Minister but faced staunch opposition from NDA because of her foreign origin. Taking note of the situation, she called upon Manmohan Singh to become the Prime Minister of India.
15. In the 2009 General Elections, the Congress-led UPA government came back to power, with Congress winning 206 seats in the Lok Sabha, the highest ever by any party after 1991.
16. Sonia Gandhi holds the record of being the longest-serving president of the Congress party. She held this position since 1998.
17. She also has several accolades to her name. In 2006, Sonia Gandhi received an honorary Doctorate from the Brussels University. In 2006, the Government of Belgium also honoured her with the Order of King Leopold. In 2008, she received the Honorary Doctorate in Literature from University of Madras.