Congress spokesman Janardhan Dwivedi told the media, "Mrs Gandhi was recently diagnosed with a medical condition and upon the advice of her doctors, has travelled abroad for surgery."
Mr Dwivedi said that the Congress President will be away for two-three weeks. During this time, he said, a caretaker team has been appointed to "look after the affairs of the Congress party". In a letter to her party, Mrs Gandhi said the four members of this group are Defence Minister AK Antony, Mr Dwivedi, Mrs Gandhi's son and party General Secretary Rahul, and her political advisor Ahmed Patel.
Mr Dwivedi did not reveal where Mrs Gandhi has travelled to in America. Sources say her daughter, Priyanka, is with her.
The fact that Rahul Gandhi has been named in the caretaker group for the Congress is being read by many as a response to the recent expression within the party for Mr Gandhi to play a larger role. A few weeks ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that he would be happy to step down for Mr Gandhi, but that the party had not discussed this possibility. Mr Gandhi reportedly did not travel with his mother to the US, but has not been seen in Parliament so far. His office said he is preoccupied with his commitments in UP where he has been meeting regularly with farmers to discuss the problems they face over their land being acquired cheaply by the UP government. UP votes next year; Mr Gandhi will steer the party's campaign here.
Who's been left out of the caretaker group is noteworthy and is likely to cause much angst and discussion within the Congress. Digvijaya Singh and Pranab Mukherjee, both known for their proximity to the Gandhis, have not been included.
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.