In light of the recent elections in the USA, I am reminded of India’s colorful political history. If you do not know the story of Sonia Gandhi and her Indian family, you are missing out!
Sonia Gandhi was born in Italy in 1946. In 1964, she met and fell in love with Rajiv Gandhi (son of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and grandson of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru). Sonia & Rajiv met in the UK, where they both were students.
Sonia and Rajiv were married in 1969. They lived and worked in India. Their two children, Rahul and Priyanka were born in the early 70s. Sonia acquired Indian citizenship after she had been married for 14 years.
She married into a very influential family on the Indian Political scene. Sadly, tragedy struck when her mother-in-law, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her own bodyguards in 1984. Sonia’s husband Rajiv, followed his mother’s footsteps and became the next Prime Minister of India (the 3rd from his family to achieve this position). Tragedy struck again, when Rajiv was also assassinated in 1991.
Following the death of her husband, Sonia refused to have any part in politics. But in 1998, she joined the effort to try to revive the Congress Party, and was soon elected as the President of her party. In 2004, Sonia lead her party to victory in the national elections, and despite much protest, she was the first foreigner to be eligible to become Prime Minister. She eventually declined the Post. However, she continues to be named among the world’s most powerful people by Forbes and Time magazines.
Sonia’s life story sounds like a movie, with many triumphs and tragedies. It is encouraging to know that India not only accepted her as a foreigner married to one of their “princes,” but embraced her in her own right. Although she remains a Roman Catholic, she has become Indian in many ways, she wears sarees, speaks Hindi and has raised her children in her adopted country. I find her story an inspiration! To read more about Sonia Gandhi, check out these books.