independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

India politician Gandhi in hospital

Sonia Gandhi leaves Indian Parliament House during the debate on National Food Security Bill 2013, in New Delhi (AP)

India's most powerful politician and the leader of the ruling Congress party alliance is in a stable condition in hospital after falling ill during a debate in parliament.

Sonia Gandhi was initially taken to the intensive care unit because she had complained of chest pain, but has been moved after she was deemed stable, the Press Trust of India said, quoting unidentified sources at the hospital.

The 66-year-old was born in Italy but rose to power after the killing of her husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

She has been suffering from a fever since Sunday, according to news reports. She appeared well during a parliamentary speech earlier, but reports said she had to be escorted from Parliament in the evening by colleagues and her son Rahul, another leader of the Congress party.

The Congress party has long kept a careful veil over Ms Gandhi's personal life, despite her immense influence.

She was flown to the United States for surgery in 2011, with some Indian news outlets saying she had been treated for cancer. But the party never gave more than cursory information about her illness, calling it a personal matter.

Ms Gandhi is widely seen as the true power behind Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the quiet technocrat who has held India's top job since the party returned to power in 2004.

Congress has been badly battered over the past year or so by a series of corruption scandals, bitter internal feuding and an inability to deal with a stumbling economy and deep-rooted problems with poverty, infrastructure and education.

Press Association

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