Sonia Gandhi, the latest member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty to lead India’s ruling Congress party, has been moved out of an intensive care unit after undergoing surgery overseas for an undisclosed medical condition.
Gandhi, 64, was shifted from the unit 24 hours after her surgery, Congress General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said in a text message to reporters today. While her party has refused to disclose where Gandhi was treated, Indian media have reported she is in the U.S., citing unnamed Congress officials.
The operation was described by Gandhi’s surgeon as “successful,” Dwivedi said in a separate message yesterday. Gandhi’s son, Rahul, who has been taking on a more prominent political role in recent months and is among four party leaders charged with temporarily looking after Congress affairs, was at the hospital accompanied by his sister Priyanka, Dwivedi said.
Congress has refused to disclose further details on Gandhi, calling her condition a private matter.
The widow of assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia is the fourth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to lead Congress, which has dominated Indian politics since independence from British rule in 1947. She was named the world’s ninth-most powerful person by Forbes magazine last year.
The Indian Express newspaper said her ailment was diagnosed during a separate trip to the U.S. earlier this year.
Dwivedi told reporters on Aug. 4 that he had been named along with 41-year-old Rahul Gandhi, Defense Minister A.K. Antony and Congress leader Ahmed Patel to run the party until Gandhi returns to India in about three weeks.
The Italian-born Gandhi unexpectedly turned down the position of prime minister after leading Congress and its allies to victory in elections in 2004, amid concerns her ancestry would be attacked by Hindu nationalist opponents. She instead selected current Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to lead the country while staying as Congress president.
As head of the country’s National Advisory Council, a body that advises on planned legislation, Gandhi has focused on health schemes, job creation and expanding the scope of subsidized food programs for the more than 800 million Indians who according to the World Bank live on less than $2 a day.
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