Blow to Indian coalition as Sonia Gandhi leaves for surgery

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The Independent Online

Sonia Gandhi, India's ruling Congress Party chief and the country's most powerful politician, will undergo surgery abroad for an undisclosed medical condition and could be away for two to three weeks.

The absence of the 64-year-old figurehead of the most prominent family dynasty may further hamper the Congress-led coalition government, already seen as rudderless amid a series of corruption scandals and public fury over high inflation. It could also accelerate the rise of her son, Rahul, one of a quartet of people appointed to take charge while she is away and considered prime minister-in-waiting.