On Wednesday, Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi marked her 74th birthday, with many political leaders across party lines greeting her. However, even as good wishes poured in, social media trolls lost no chance to take a jibe at Sonia over her ancestry.
Unfortunately, as is often the case with many Twitter trends (and trolls), the efforts to attack Gandhi are riddled with factual inaccuracies. Others make no attempt to be factual, content to make nasty personal slanders against her.
Here we've fact checked some of the popular claims that are yet again making the rounds - from her birth name to her profession and her lengthy political career.
Take a look:
Her real name: Sonia Gandhi was born Edvige Antonia Albina Maino in 1946, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. A BBC report, however, suggests that she was named Sonia Maino. Twitter trolls, however, have hit out at the interim Congress President by calling her Antonia Maino.
Fascist father: Her father was reportedly a staunch supporter of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and had even fought against the Soviet military alongside Hitler’s army. Sonia was born a year after Mussolini’s death. Italy, too, had surrendered three years before her birth.
Bar dancer: There are several rumours and allegations doing the rounds claiming that former India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi met Sonia Gandhi while she worked in a bar as a dancer in the United Kingdom. This claim is absolutely false. She did work in a restaurant as a bar attender (i.e. taking orders for a drink) while studying in university when she met Rajiv Gandhi, but the claims of bar dancer were introduced during a political campaign in 2004. Furthermore, if you search for ‘bar girl in India’ in Google, Sonia Gandhi’s pictures crop up, which shows you how powerfully fake news can take over your life. There are also photoshopped images of her face morphed onto the bodies of Hollywood actresses like Marlyn Monroe and Reese Witherspoon.
Ending Sitaram Kesri’s political career: Normally, the Congress President’s tenure is a five-year period. The only exception is Sitaram Kesri. In 1998, according to an India Today report, the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution to make Sonia Gandhi its party president. In order to do that, Kesri needed to be toppled over. There have been several reports and even speeches by BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Congress workers locked Kesri in a room to unanimously elect Sonia Gandhi as party president
Did she ever sit on the lap of Maldives President? In 2018 a picture began circulating of Sonia Gandhi allegedly sitting on the lap of the former Maldives President Abdul Gayoom. However, this wasn’t the case, and it was revealed that it was a 2005 meeting between the two world leaders that had been photoshopped. Another image had her face photoshopped onto the body of James Bond actress Ursula Andress posing with Sean Connery. The original picture was from the James Bond movie Dr No.