Sonia Gandhi (born Edvige Antonia Albina Maino on 9 December 1946) is an Italian-born Indian politician and the President of the Indian National Congress, one of the major political parties of India. She is the widow of former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. After his assassination in 1991, she was invited by the Indian National Congress to take over the Congress but Gandhi refused and publicly stayed away from politics amidst constant prodding by the Congress. She finally agreed to join politics in 1997 and in 1998, she was elected as the leader of the Congress.
Since then, Gandhi has been the President of the Indian National Congress Party. She has served as the Chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha since 2004. In September 2010, on being re-elected for the fourth time, she became the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the Congress party. Her foreign birth has been a subject of much debate and controversy. Although Sonia is actually the fifth foreign-born person to be leader of the Congress Party, she is the first since independence in 1947.
She was born to Stefano and Paola Maino in Contrada Màini ("Maini quarter (or district)"), Lusiana, a little village 30 km from Vicenza in Veneto, Italy, where families with family name "Màino" have been living for many generations. She spent her adolescence in Orbassano, a town near Turin, being raised in a traditional Roman Catholic family and attending a Catholic school. Her father, a building mason, died in 1983. Her mother and two sisters still live around Orbassano.