This Article is From Apr 16, 2015

Rahul Gandhi Back After 57-Day Sabbatical That Included Vipassana

Rahul Gandhi returned to Delhi today after a 2-month sabbatical

New Delhi:

Rahul Gandhi today returned to Delhi after a 57-day sabbatical, which included a course in vipassana or meditation to induce calm.

The Congress vice president came on a flight from Bangkok and was welcomed home by his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi, and sister Priyanka.

Media teams outside his bungalow in the leafy Tughlaq Lane got a fleeting glimpse of the 44-year-old in his car. Congress workers burst firecrackers, their celebrations contrasting with a torrent of sarcasm on social media, where #RahulReturns became a top trend.

Rahul Gandhi has missed much activity in a politically-charged season, leaving his party to defend a "leave of absence" that has been extended several times, especially at a time the Congress has tried to rally opposition forces against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policies.

The party has not clarified where Mr Gandhi spent his holiday. The Congress has said that its number two leader wanted time off for introspection, and has also vehemently denied reports that he left over differences with his mother over the running of the party.

"The Congress must tell the nation where Rahul was," said the BJP's Sambit Patra, calling him a "part time politician."

Under renewed media glare, Rahul Gandhi has big challenges ahead - he has to prep his party for a string of state polls this year and the next.

On Sunday, Rahul Gandhi will address a massive farmers' rally against the government's proposed law to make it easier to acquire land for industrial and key infrastructure projects.

Often described as a reluctant politician, Rahul Gandhi is expected to replace his mother as party chief soon. But during his absence, the Congress has projected mixed feelings about him taking over the reins after a series of electoral disasters, which included a colossal defeat in last year's national election and the Delhi election in February.

Congress leaders Sandeep Dikshit and Amarinder Singh suggested recently that the party will not benefit from Sonia Gandhi making way for her son for the top post.