Unseen Sonia Gandhi Story

Indira, Rajiv, Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka, Varun at first Death Anniversary of Sanjay Gandhi

Rajiv and Sonia at Amethi

Indira, Sanjay, Sonia at 1,Akbar Rd, New-Delhi

Italian-born Sonia Maino joined India's political dynasty when she married in 1968 and moved into the house of her mother-in-law, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

She became a citizen of India in 1983 and its first lady in 1984, when her husband Rajiv Gandhi succeeded his assassinated mother as prime minister.

For seven years she was at the forefront of India's domestic and international political life.

Tragedy struck the Gandhi family again in 1991, when Rajiv was killed by a suicide bomber.

Sonia Gandhi remains a Roman Catholic, but follows Hindu and Indian traditions with her children, here scattering Rajiv's ashes in the River Ganges.

She has also embraced her role in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, here paying respects at the memorial of India's first prime minister and Rajiv's grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru.

After Rajiv's death Sonia shied away from the spotlight but when she agreed to start her own career in 1998, a Gandhi again became an important political leader.

Sonia's son Rahul and daughter Priyanka have also become politically active.

As a new bride Sonia was criticised for her poor Hindi and fashion sense, but in recent elections she showed she could win over India's poorer voters.

And set herself up to become the country's first foreign-born prime minister.

But in a dramatic development, Sonia Gandhi said that she had decided not to become prime minister - basing her decision on her 'inner voice'.