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Sonia Gandhi falls ill in parliament, hospitalised

Updated August 27, 2013

NEW DELHI, Aug 26: Sonia Gandhi, the president of India’s ruling Congress party who is widely seen as the country’s most powerful politician, was taken to hospital on Monday after feeling unwell during a marathon parliament debate on a major new food welfare scheme.

Ms Gandhi was led limping out of the lower house in the early evening by her son and colleagues, then taken by car to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in New Delhi.

“Sonia has been admitted to AIIMS, her condition is stable,” party spokesman Bhakta Charan Das told Reuters. He did not give more details.

It was not immediately clear what caused the turn six hours into the debate. Some media reports said she had complained of chest pain, others that she was suffering from a viral fever. A spokesman at the hospital could not be reached for comment.

The Italian-born politician, who has led the party to two successive terms governing the world’s largest democracy, has played a slightly less public role in politics since being treated abroad for an unknown illness in 2011. The party is usually very secretive about her health.

Ms Gandhi, 66, became Congress chief some years after the assassination in 1991 of her husband, the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

She declined to become prime minister despite pressure from the party after the first victory in 2004, and chose instead the quiet economist Manmohan Singh for the top job.

However, she arguably wields more power over government policy than Mr Singh from her post as Congress president, with party members and cabinet ministers grateful to her for reviving their fortunes with two uninterrupted terms in office.—Reuters