Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is abroad as the party celebrates its 136th Foundation Day at its state and district headquarters across the country today. The ex-party chief has come under attack over the timing of his foreign visit; the BJP’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan questioned him this morning over his absence on a day that holds immense significance for the party.
“Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has left for abroad for a short personal visit and will be away for a few days,” top spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said on Sunday. His visit comes shortly after top party leaders met earlier this month, including those who have called for sweeping organizational changes over the poor electoral performance.
While Mr Gandhi told the leaders at the meet he is “ready to work for the party as all desire”, sources have told NDTV he is firm on his decision on not returning as the party president.
This morning, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra avoided answering questions on brother Rahul while talking to the reporters.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was also not present when senior leader AK Antony hoisted the party flag in Delhi to mark the celebrations.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan criticising Mr Gandhi tweeted this morning in Hindi: “Congress here is celebrating its 136th Foundation Day and Rahul Gandhi has disappeared.”
On Sunday, Mr Surjewala had refused to share the details of Mr Gandhi’s visit abroad. However, news agency PTI quoted sources as saying that he left for Milan in Italy on a Qatar Airways flight in the morning.
Earlier this year, the BJP had targeted the Congress MP from Kerala’s Wayanad and his mother Sonia after a foreign trip. In parliament, BJP MPs stressed they both “must get tested for coronavirus as they have just returned from Italy and may end up spreading it”, stirring up such a commotion in Lok Sabha.
The BJP often targets Mr Gandhi over his foreign trips, especially with reference to Italy, home to his mother’s family.
Meanwhile, several Congress leaders, including Mr Gandhi, shared tweets on the party’s foundation day.
“The Congress is committed to the welfare of the nation. Today, on the occasion of the the Foundation Day, we reiterate our commitment to truth and equality. Jai Hind,” Mr Gandhi tweeted in Hindi along with a video.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has asked all its state units to observe the party’s foundation day on December 28 through various campaigns including organising ”Tiranga Yatras” and running a social media campaign ”Selfie with Tiranga”.