Sonia Maino was born to Stefano and Paola Maino in Italy, where families with the family name 'Maino' have been living for many generations. All pictures/mid-day archives
Sonia met Rajiv Gandhi at the Varsity Restaurant, where she was working as a part-time waitress, while he was enrolled for an engineering degree in the Trinity College at the University of Cambridge
Sonia Maino and Rajeev Gandhi married in 1968, in a Hindu ceremony, following which she moved into the house of her mother-in-law and then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had two children, Rahul Gandhi (born 1970) and Priyanka Vadra (born 1972)
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi attend a function in Colaba on December 29, 1994
Rajiv and Sonia with Indira Gandhi on their wedding day in 1968. (Pic/Mid-Day archive)
Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi attend religious rituals on the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in Rajghat
Rajiv Gandhi, wife Sonia Gandhi with son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka gandhi
Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka Gandhi wave at the large gathering in Sriperumbadur. Pic/PTI
Sonia Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi pay tribute to Rajiv Gandhi's memorial
Perched on the fence Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi wave to the crowd at an election rally in Meerut
Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin has often been an issue of controversy that opponents of Congress are always ready to rake up
Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia visit Badaling the Great Wall during their trip to China on 20 December 1988.
On the day of her daughter's wedding, Sonia Gandhi with newly wed Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra on 18 February 1997 at 10 Jan Path. Priyanka wore a south Indian temple sari, which belonged to her grandmother Indira Gandhi. Also seen is Rahul Gandhi (R).
Sonia Gandhi (L) and daughter Priyanka wave at crowds at Sonia's first election campaign rally near the site of Rajiv Gandhi's assassination in Sripurumbudur on11 January 1998.
Pope John Paul II meets Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia at the beginning of his ten-day visit to India on 01 February 1986 in New Delhi.
Rajiv Gandhi, accompanied by wife Sonia, son Rahul and daughter Priyanka, paying homage to Indira Gandhi at Shakti Sthala in New Delhi on 31 October 1989.
Sonia Gandhi casts her ballot on 27 April 1996 in New Delhi during the first phase of the parliamentary polls. Also seen here is film star Rajesh Khanna, who was a Congress MP and her daughter Priyanka and son Rahul stand in the background.
Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi at a polling booth
Sonia Gandhi addresses members of the Congress party in New Delhi on 6 April 1998 after being endorsed as leader of the 113-year-old Congress.
Sonia Gandhi files her nomination papers at a local district magistrate's office in Sultanpur on 10 September 1999, to contest the general elections, from the family's traditional constituency of Amethi.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi with then Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee (L) during a function celebrating the last day of Dusshera festival in New Delhi on 15 October 2002.
Sonia Gandhi seen with her grandchildren Miraya (L) and Raihan along with her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (R) and son-in-law Robert Vadra (2nd-R), during a memorial ceremony for her late husband Rajiv Gandhi, on the 61st anniversary of his birth in New Delhi on 20 August 2005.
Sonia Gandhi, then sports minister Sunil Dutt (L) and Tushar Gandhi, great-grand son of Mahatma Gandhi attend a peace prayer at Sabarmati Asharm on the 75th anniversary of the famous Salt March (Dandhi March) in Ahmedabad, in Gujarat on 12 March 2005.
Former South African president and Nobel peace prize laureate late Nelson Mandela receives Sonia Gandhi at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg during her four day working visit to South Africa on 22 August 2007.
Sonia Gandhi speaks at the informal meeting on "International Day of Non-Violence" during the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly on 2 October 2007 at the United Nations in New York.
Congress-led UPA's Presidential candidate Pratibha Patil (2-L) arrives at Parliament House to file her nomination papers for the Presidential elections, with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi (L) and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on 23 June 2007.
US astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams (L), who spent a record 195 days in space, received by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi (R) at her residence in New Delhi on 29 September 2007.
Sonia Gandhi celebrates Holi with party supporters in New Delhi on March 22, 2008.
Sonia Gandhi learns the steps of a traditional dance from tribal women during a public meeting in Kothagudem near Hyderabad on February 27, 2009.
US President Barack Obama holds a courtesy meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Dehli on November 8, 2010.
Then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (L) on a three-day tour to India meets UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi on May 7, 2012.
Sonia Gandhi with Murli Deora at a dinner hosted by Deora's at Taj Mahal hotel on December 20, 1995
Sonia Gandhi's involvement with Indian public life began after the assassination of her mother-in-law and her husband's election as prime minister. As the prime minister's wife she acted as his official hostess and also accompanied him on a number of state visits
Sonia Gandhi surrendered her Italian passport to the Italian Embassy on April 27, 1983. Italian nationality law did not permit dual nationality until 1992. So, by acquiring Indian citizenship in 1983, she automatically lost Italian citizenship
Sonia Gandhi with Bollywood actor Govinda at a dinner hosted in Taj Mahal hotel. Also present was Alyque Padamsee. Pic/Pradeep Bandekar
Sonia Gandhi with Shahnaz Hussain
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar at the Congress Party meeting in New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi being greeted by Sitaram Kesri after she was elected as Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson at the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi on March 16, 1998
Sonia Gandhi with Hema Deora at Taj Hotel on December 20, 1995. Pic/Gajanan Ghurge
On the occasion of Sonia Gandhi's 71st birthday, we take a look at some rare images of the Congress president with her family and other political leaders over the years
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