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DATE=8/23/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=INDIA- POLITICS (L) NUMBER=2-253031 BYLINE=JIM TEEPLE DATELINE=NEW DELHI CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Trailing in the polls leading up to national elections, Sonia Gandhi the leader of India's Congress Party has turned to her son, to help her win votes. VOA's Jim Teeple reports from New Delhi, India's Congress Party appears to be betting on a new generation of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty to help revive its prospects. Text: Until a few weeks ago, 27-year-old Rahul Gandhi, the son, grandson and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers was a London-based financial consultant with little apparent interest in the turbulent world of Indian politics. That was before his mother Sonia Gandhi filed papers to run as a candidate for parliament from two seats - something a candidate is allowed to do under Indian law. On Sunday as she made her first major campaign appearance in the southern Indian town of Villapuram, near where her husband was assassinated in 1991, Sonia Gandhi was joined onstage by her son Rahul - signaling the induction into politics of yet another member of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty which has ruled India for 37 of its 52 years of independence. Unlike his sister Pryanka, Rahul Gandhi has stayed away from involvement in politics or the affairs of India's Congress Party. Eduardo Faleiro, a member of India's upper house of parliament from the state of Goa, and a leading Congress Party official, says Rahul Gandhi will help his mother's campaign. // FALEIRO ACT // It's useful for the party to have members of this family there. It helps us, because the people trust this family and they believe in them. Whether it is rich or poor or in the north or south or wherever it helps us and it helps the country because they are truly nationalist and truly secular. // END ACT // While both Rahul and his sister Pryanka are now campaigning for their mother and for other Congress Party candidates they are not running for Parliament. In fact until she filed nomination papers for two seats last week, Sonia Gandhi had never run for office in her adopted country. Mrs. Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress Party in 1997 becoming president of the party in 1998. Earlier this year she led a confidence motion against the government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. When she toppled the government, Mrs. Gandhi was unable to form one of her own and elections were called. Balloting will begin on September 5th and continue at weekly intervals until October 3rd. // REST OPT // The issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign birth has become the dominant election issue in India and has sparked a heated debate even within the Congress Party. Three leading regional Party leaders were forced to resign after they raised the issue earlier this year. Recent polls show Mr. Vajpayee's coalition, led by the Bharitiya Janata Party, winning more than 320 seats in India's 545 seat lower house, enough to form a government on its own and deliver a crushing defeat to Sonia Gandhi's Congress Party. However, Eduardo Faleiro of the Congress Party says those polls don't take into account his party's traditional base of rural strength. // 2ND FALEIRO ACT // The polls are only looking at the cities and they are not looking at the rural areas and that is where the votes are. And we are going to emerge as the party with the single largest amount of seats in parliament. // END ACT // With her son by her side, Sonia Gandhi is now appealing to India's voters to cast their ballots for the Congress Party. Though she is behind in the polls as the campaign gets under way, Sonia Gandhi and her lieutenants appear to be betting that once again the magic of the Nehru-Gandhi name will help rescue the Congress Party. (Signed) NEB/JLT/KL 23-Aug-1999 09:30 AM EDT (23-Aug-1999 1330 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .