Calling on Gandhi

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India's faction-ridden Congress party yesterday turned to Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born widow of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, to bring in the votes in next spring's difficult elections.

Congress leaders, led by party president Sitaram Kesri, lined up at Mrs Gandhi's heavily guarded home, apparently to greet her on her birthday, but said they would urge her to lead the party's campaign. Congress, India's oldest party, was humiliated in the 1996 elections and had to take a back seat to the 15-party United Front coalition, which collapsed last month in a fragmented parliament.

- Reuters, New Delhi