Rahul Gandhi Abroad, Congress Defends Absence At Foundation Day Event Amid BJP Taunt

The BJP often targets Mr Gandhi over his foreign trips, especially with reference to Italy, home to his mother's family.

Rahul Gandhi was targeted earlier this year too over his foreign visit. (File)

Highlights

  • Rahul Gandhi left for abroad for a short personal visit on Sunday
  • He has gone to see his grandmother, KC Venugopal said today
  • The BJP often targets Mr Gandhi over his foreign trips
New Delhi:

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is abroad, came under attack from the BJP that took a dig at him over his foreign trip as the party celebrated its 136th Foundation Day today. "Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has left for abroad for a short personal visit and will be away for a few days," party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said on Sunday.

Mr Surjewala today said the BJP should not have any objection to Mr Gandhi visiting an ailing relative.

"Rahul Gandhi has gone out on a short personal visit to meet up with an ailing relative, who is seriously sick. He has not gone out on a holiday. He also meets up with his maternal grandmother this time of the year, every year. I don't think the BJP should have objections to him visiting an ailing relative," he said, according to news agency PTI.

His trip abroad comes shortly after top party leaders met about a week ago, 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 amid celebrations at the Delhi headquarters.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was also not present when senior leader AK Antony hoisted the party flag to mark the event. "There could have been 101 reasons for his absence. We don't want to speculate. If he took a call it must be for a valid reason... Priyanka ji is here," Salman Khurshid told the reporters, speaking about Mr Gandhi.

Hitting out at Rahul Gandhi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted this morning in Hindi: "Congress here is celebrating its 136th Foundation Day and Rahul Gandhi has disappeared."

"It's so unfortunate for Congress that the person who has been its president and is also considered for the post is absent on the foundation day of the party. Nobody knows which country he is in. His absence raises several questions about him and his part," he later said. 

"Rahul Gandhi has gone to see his grandmother. Is it wrong? Everybody has the right to undertake personal visits. BJP is indulging in low-level politics. They are targeting Rahul Gandhi because they want to target only one leader," Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said today. News agency PTI had, on Sunday, quoted sources as saying that Mr Gandhi left for Milan in Italy on a Qatar Airways flight in the morning.

The BJP often targets Mr Gandhi over his foreign trips, especially with reference to Italy, home to his mother's family. 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.

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 through various campaigns including organising ''Tiranga Yatras'' and running a social media campaign ''Selfie with Tiranga''.