Italians revere Sonia for her loyalty towards India
From an unobtrusive wife of a slain Prime Minister to becoming the top ranked politician in India, Sonia Gandhi is hailed in her country of origin Italy as an "Indian who is loyal to its interests".
"It is like a dream," says 35-year old driver Umberto Catalano about the ruling UPA Chairperson's meteoric rise in Indian politics from her humble beginnings in Italy.
When a new agency correspondent engaged in a conversation with Catalano and his two other friends in a hotel here to know whether they knew about Sonia Gandhi, the driver immediately responded with enthusiasm.
"Of course. Her love story is a fairy tale to most Italians even now. She has transformed herself as an Indian completely after her marriage. This shows love has no culture, boundaries, race and religion," Catalano said.
Debora Lepre, a shopkeeper in one of Rome's busy streets, seemed overawed by Gandhi's personality.
"We hear that she is the most powerful and influential politician in India. Most of us feel proud of her," she said.
Some students at Saint Louis University in Rome, where recently Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma gave a lecture on India-Italy relationship, expressed similar feelings about Sonia Gandhi, who has been living in India ever since she married Rajiv Gandhi in 1968.
"It's a fairy tale love story. I cannot imagine in my life a small town girl falling in love (with the son of a powerful Prime Minister) and after marriage adjusting to an altogether different culture and a family of political background," a literature student of the university remarked.
Her classmate chipped in saying "she (Sonia Gandhi) is heading a political party in the world's biggest democracy. It sounds as if I am reading a novel!"
Earlier in his lecture at the university, Sharma said: "Besides trade relationship, we have a deep connection with Italy as our UPA Chairperson belongs to this country."
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