Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi finally returned to Delhi after his nearly two-month long sabbatical on Thursday. The Congress came under fire after Rahul went on a leave on February 22, a day before the crucial Budget session started.
Sources said that Rahul returned to India via a Thai Airways flight and was in a South East Asian country. Sources added that Rahul was in Yangon, Myanmar at a famous meditation retreat centre. He was supposed to return on Wednesday night but his connecting flight from Bangkok was delayed, hence he arrived on Thursday morning.
Sources added that Rahul had requested that Special Protection Group cover should not be with him during his stay abroad and he was being given security cover of the respective country.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her daughter Priyanka arrived at Rahul’s residence to meet him.
The party has confirmed that Rahul will be leading a Kisan rally against the Land Acquisition Bill on April 19. Seeking to put pressure on the Modi dispensation, Congress is planning a massive mobilisation of farmers across the country.
The rally assumes significance as it is being held on the eve of the opening of the second phase of the Budget session of Parliament and at a time when the government has re-promulgated the Land Acquisition Ordinance.
There were voices of dissent within the party over his long leave with senior leaders questioning the timing oh his vacation. Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said that Rahul is entitled to a leave but the timing was wrong. “I want him to lead from the front. He should be more hands on. I think he has to lead his own life, at the same time today’s politics is 24×7 job, and he needs to be more hands on.”
Senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit embarrassed her party by telling PTI that there were question marks over his leadership and Sonia Gandhi was the best hope for the party’s revival. However, she later clarified saying that she never said Rahul was incapable and that she meant Sonia was the most acceptable leader.
Rahul has been facing severe criticism ever since Congress’s decimation in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which his party managed to win just 44 seats in the 545-member House. His sudden absence from the political scene gave his rivals another chance to question his leadership qualities and interest in politics.