India’s Sonia Gandhi hospitalised with COVID issues

Italian-born Gandhi, widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is the longest-serving president of the Congress party.

The leader of India’s main opposition party, Sonia Gandhi, has been admitted to hospital in New Delhi with health issues related to COVID-19.

Her party tweeted the announcement on Sunday but gave no other details. Gandhi tested positive for COVID-19 on June 2.

Italian-born Gandhi, the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is the longest-serving president of the Congress Party, which ruled India for decades after its founders led the country to independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

Her parliamentarian son Rahul Gandhi also served as the Congress president. Founded in 1885, Congress is India’s oldest political party and dominated the country for decades after independence, led by generations of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Sonia Gandhi, 76, is credited with reviving the Congress Party when it won a surprise victory in legislative elections in 2004.

Following that election success, she would have become India’s first foreign-born and first Roman Catholic prime minister, but she surprised everyone by turning down the top post and nominating economist Manmohan Singh to be prime minister.

In recent years, Gandhi has travelled several times to the United States to deal with health issues.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dealt the Congress Party consecutive defeats in national polls in 2014 and 2019.

While Congress managed to win a mere 44 seats in the 543-member parliament in 2014, polls last year did not see any revival in its fortunes, and the party secured just 52 seats.

The party now controls just a handful of India’s 28 states.

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