(Updates with Gandhi home, details)
* Has recovered from a touch of viral fever, party official
* Trembling during speech on food welfare pet project
* Treated abroad for unknown illness in 2011
By Nigam Prusty and Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI, Aug 27 (Reuters) - - Sonia Gandhi, the president
of India's ruling Congress party who is widely seen as the
country's most powerful politician, was back home from hospital
on Tuesday after she took ill during a marathon parliament
debate, officials said.
Gandhi, 66, was led limping out of the lower house on Monday
evening by her son and colleagues, and then taken by car to the
All India Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in New Delhi.
A Congress party official said Gandhi had a touch of viral
fever and was fine now. "Madam Gandhi is home now. She is
perfectly fine," the official said.
The Italian-born politician, who has led her party to two
successive terms governing the world's largest democracy, has
played a slightly reduced public role since being treated abroad
for an unknown illness in 2011. Still, she is the world's sixth
most powerful woman, Forbes magazine said last year.
The party is usually very secretive about Gandhi's health,
but several media reports said in 2011 that she had been treated
for cancer at New York's Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
On Monday, Gandhi participated in a parliament debate on a
scheme to provide cheap food to more than two-thirds of India's
poor - one of her pet projects - when she felt unwell.
Gandhi and her son, Rahul, are banking on the nearly
$20-billion food security programme to boost the Congress
party's prospects ahead of a difficult election next year and
the party's campaign is built around the two members of the
FOOD FOR ALL PROGRAMME
Television images showed the normally strong-looking leader
trembling as she read out from a clutch of papers a short speech
on the food security bill, one of the world's largest welfare
programmes and one that Gandhi has insisted on to ensure India's
poor are not left behind in its emergence as an economic power.
"It's time to take the historic step," she said. "It is my
fervent appeal that we shall pass this unanimously."
Critics say the programme will strain government finances
further at a time when the economy has slowed and the country's
external imbalance has deteriorated, with the rupee currency
languishing at record lows.
The food security bill was passed two hours after Gandhi and
her son left parliament. It must now go to the upper house.
Gandhi became Congress party president some years after the
1991 assassination of her husband, former Indian prime minister
She declined to become prime minister despite pressure from
the party after the first victory in 2004, and chose the quiet
economist Manmohan Singh for the top job. However, she arguably
wields more power over policy than the prime minister.
Her son is now leading the party's preparations for a
national election - due to be held in less than a year.
The Gandhi family, descended from India's first prime
minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, enjoys a status similar to royalty
in the country of 1.2 billion. They are not related to
independence hero Mahatma Gandhi, a close ally of Nehru.
(Editing by John Chalmers and Clarence Fernandez)