More than five months after he quit the Congress chief's post, Rahul Gandhi made his first public appearance at Maharashtra's Latur and attacked the government on the state of the economy. Appearing in the state a day both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief and Union Minister Amit Shah are campaigning in the state, Rahul Gandhi accused them of distracting the people's attention from core issues like farm crisis or unemployment.
"Auto sector, textile sector, diamond industry is finished but you don't see anything in media. Modi doesn't speak about this at all. This is highest unemployment in 40 years," he said at the election rally at Ausa in Latur district.
"When the youth ask for jobs, the government tells them to watch the moon. The government speaks about (scrapping special provisions of) Article 370 and moon, but is silent on the problems plaguing the country," Mr Gandhi said.
Rahul Gandhi had quit the party post days after the Lok Sabha election results in May, accepting responsibility for the party's abysmal performance. The Congress had managed to get only 52 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats - its second consecutive crash in the general elections.
Nearly three months later, in August, when he refused to back down on its decision, his mother and UPA chairperson Mrs Gandhi was handed the reins of the party.
The double blow of the election and Mr Gandhi's quitting had the Congress in deep crisis, with many leaders making a beeline for the BJP.
In Maharashtra, the deeply factionalised party had crashed in the Lok Sabha elections, winning only one of the state's 48 parliamentary seats.
Five months on, the situation has worsened, with leaders openly rebelling days ahead of the state elections. Last week, the Congress faced revolt from a key leader of the party in the state. Over the last 3 months the Congress has lost at least 8 members, who are contesting from BJP and Shiv Sena.
Before Mr Gandhi, no top leader had come to campaign in the state.