Sonia Gandhi Out of Hospital After Falling Sick During Debate

India's Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi
Sonia Gandhi, president of India's Congress Party, center, is supported by Kumari Selja, minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation, left, as she leaves Parliament in New Delhi late Aug. 26, 2013. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Sonia Gandhi, India’s most powerful politician, who fell ill in parliament last evening shortly before a landmark bill on food security was passed, left the hospital early this morning.

The Italy-born Gandhi, 66, who has been the president of the ruling Congress party since 1998, was seen shaking during a rare speech in parliament yesterday when she urged lawmakers to put aside their differences and pass the legislation to expand the world’s biggest food program. Television footage showed her walking unsteadily, holding the hand of a minister, as she left parliament to be taken away in a car.

“She is back home and is fine now,” said Renuka Chowdhury, a spokeswomen for the ruling Congress party. Gandhi was admitted to hospital with a viral fever, she said.

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 in 2013.

She underwent a surgery overseas in 2011 for an undisclosed medical condition, which her party said was a private matter and refused to comment further.

Gandhi’s party leads the federal coalition of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whom she picked to lead Congress following an election victory in 2004.

She unexpectedly turned down the position of prime minister after leading Congress and its allies to victory in 2004, amid concerns her ancestry would be attacked by opponents. She instead selected Singh to lead the country while staying as Congress president.

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