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India’s Sonia Gandhi files her nomination papers as election begins

India's main opposition Congress party's matriarch, Sonia Gandhi filed her nomination papers on Thursday (April 11) from the family bastion of Rae Bareli as voting in a general election began.

Congress is leading the fight against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), partnering with smaller parties in some places and elsewhere going it alone, hoping to bank on the charisma of its president, Rahul Gandhi, drawn from the Nehru-Gandhi family. The party’s stronghold in northern India has voted for Sonia Gandhi since 2004.

Along with her son and daughter Priyanka Gandhi, Sonia performed an auspicious Hindu ritual of ‘yajna’ for good fortune before filing her nomination papers and rallying with supporters in a road show.

The Italian-born 72-year-old, who forged a Congress-led coalition government for two successive terms in 2004 and 2009 to run the world’s largest democracy, has played a reduced public role since being treated abroad for illness in 2011.

(Production: Chiara Rodriquez)

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