New Delhi: Though her car was waiting at her doorstep to drive her the short distance to her meeting next door, Sonia Gandhi decided this morning to stay home, reportedly because of the extreme Delhi pollution that has become an international headline.
- Sonia Gandhi, Congress chief, skips crucial meet, son Rahul presides
- Mrs Gandhi advised to remain indoors on account of Delhi smog
- Hospitalized for weeks in August after falling sick during Varanasi tour
Mrs Gandhi, 69, is unwell, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, according to news agency IANS which said she has a bad throat.
Mrs Gandhi was meant to chair the session of her party's top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee. But doctors who have been concerned about her health since she collapsed in August during a road show in Varanasi, counselled her to remain indoors, said sources who asked not to be named.
The same advice was offered by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to the capital over the weekend - he said people must work from home, if possible; he has also shut down schools till Wednesday and ordered a complete stop of any construction till the air quality improves.
Air pollution in most parts of Delhi is more than 15 times the permissible limit as set by the World Health Organization.
In Mrs Gandhi's absence, her son and Deputy Rahul Gandhi took charge of the Congress meeting called to deliberate the party's strategy in states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, which are to vote soon.
Mr Gandhi's ascension to top boss, a running theme within his party for years, is not on today's agenda, signalling that the move to make him President - acknowledged by the Congress as an inevitability - has again been deferred.
Mrs Gandhi has served as Congress president since 1998.