India's Sonia Gandhi hospitalised for infection

Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi arrives to address a news conference in New Delhi May 16, 2014.

NEW DELHI - The head of India's opposition Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, has been hospitalised for a respiratory infection, her party said on Friday.

Gandhi, 68, was admitted to New Delhi's Ganga Ram Hospital on Thursday evening and her condition is now stable, a Congress spokesman told AFP.

"She is currently under observation," he said, requesting anonymity.

The Italian-born Gandhi is the widow of assassinated former premier Rajiv Gandhi and heads the Congress party, which lost the 2014 elections to the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party after consecutive wins in 2004 and 2009.

Last year, Gandhi was rushed to hospital after she fell ill during a debate in parliament.

Her health and private life are closely guarded secrets but have been the subject of much speculation in India since 2011 when she went to the United States for surgery.

The Gandhi dynasty, which stems from first post-independence premier Jawaharlal Nehru and has no link to independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, has exerted huge influence in India during most of its post-independence history.

Three members of the family have become prime minister and 44-year-old Rahul is the vice president of the party.