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Rahul Gandhi in US: Patterns from the past

The second phase of the Budget Session of the Parliament was washed away in the clamour of the ruling Party for his apology for his alleged statements against the country on foreign soil.

Credit: Rahul Gandhi's Twitter handleRahul Gandhi in US: Patterns from the past

Soon after Rahul Gandhi returned from his UK visit in March this year, the order of the Surat Court on the defamation case against him was pronounced sentencing him to simple imprisonment of two years—the maximum punishment prescribed under the law. This earned him disqualification from Membership in Parliament which followed.

The second phase of the Budget Session of the Parliament was washed away in the clamour of the ruling Party for his apology for his alleged statements against the country on foreign soil. Rahul Gandhi, however, before he earned disqualification, kept on asking, in vain, for a chance to explain on the floor of Parliament on what he had said abroad. Congress Party viewed the disruption of Parliament session as a designed one to prevent any discussion on the Adani issue.

Rahul Gandhi’s alleged criticism of the country in UK was also raised during the BJP’s election campaign before the Karnataka electorate. Congress, however, registered a resounding victory by winning the Assembly Election (results declared on May 13) with 135 seats out of a total of 224 registering a gain of 55 seats and securing about 43 % of votes with BJP winning only 66 seats – a reduction of 38 seats.

In the meantime, there was a standoff between the Opposition and the BJP over the inauguration of the new Parliament Building. Rahul Gandhi publicly stated that the country’s new Parliament Building should be inaugurated by the President of India—a stand endorsed by a number of Parties while BJP with the support of  even a larger number of Parties went ahead with an elaborate inauguration ceremony performed by the Prime Minister. The Parties opposing it, boycotted the ceremony, repeated appeals of leaders of BJP notwithstanding. 

Soon after these developments, Rahul Gandhi is again on a tour abroad and this time to the US. He as a prominent leader of the Congress Party which is perceptibly gaining strength after years of decline would most likely consider engaging with the global community interested in democracy and share with them what is going on in India.

He would most likely present his perception of democracy and would discuss on a variety of topics from democracy to employment and economy to human rights. He will be addressing a think tank, meeting intellectuals, artists, and NRIs. He and his Party surely would like to remain connected with the diaspora-5 million Indian Americans in US who are doing excellent work in all spheres of life.

It is only natural that his and his Party’s perception on political and economic issues would be different from the perception of the BJP and this difference could emerge during his interactions in US. 

It is relevant to recall that Indira Gandhi had visited the UK in November 1978 officially to celebrate with Indians in London her father’s 89th Birthday; but many were of the view that she was on a public relations tour after her electoral success and to create a favourable sentiments for her across countries.

During the visit she had faced hostile questioning and hostile crowd who were affected by the Emergency she had imposed.  Question on some sensitive foreign affairs issues she had refused to answer saying that it was not proper for a former Prime Minister to speak on such matters on foreign soil.

At one press briefing, a report of the Washington Post on November 20, 1978 said  “she did reveal that she and her associates have evolved "20-point plan to help the poorest, the common man, with land reforms, debt relief and so on. But the Janata Party has put things into reverse in the past two years. Some of the things that have been going on are truly horrible, just horrifying." "We believe in democracy," she had said, "but what is it that matters? Is it the voice of the people, or the privilege of the few?" She had even predicted that the Janata government would fall within a year. On return home, neither the Government of the day led by Morarji Desai nor the Parties in power had ever asked her to apologise.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)