Eyebrows were raised on Thursday when Congress President Sonia Gandhi skipped her scheduled meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron. In fact, the Congress president -- known as a stickler for convention -- and her son, Rahul Gandhi have also been skipping the monsoon session of Parliament.
Congress sources have disclosed that Sonia is probably away from the country, visiting her ailing mother, Paola Maino.
The Congress president has two sisters, one of whom is married to a Spanish diplomat and the second used to run a boutique at their hometown in Italy.
Sonia, who left Italy to study English at a college in Cambridge where she met Rajiv Gandhi, makes very few and far between visits to her home town in Italy, preferring to remain in India or at best visit London for short visits.
She is said to be more comfortable receiving family and other relatives at her residence in Delhi, and prefers to bond with them in India. During the early years of Rajiv's premiership, her sister and brother-in-law were posted in India, giving the sisters time to spend together.
While Rahul is known to travel abroad frequently, Sonia makes it a point to be present when Parliament is in session. Even when there are disruptions, though for a short while, she puts in a daily appearance. This is probably one of the rare occasions when she has been away when Parliament is in session.