With Rahul Gandhi’s surprise sabbatical “for a few weeks” sparking speculations, Congress today jumped in to damage control asserting that Gandhi will actively take part in all party processes after he comes back from the leave in near future.
Gandhi’s going on leave was announced on the eve of the budget session of parliament in which the party had earlier decided to target the government in a big way on land ordinance issue and Gandhi himself was slated to lead a party agitation at Jantar Mantar on Wednesday.
Gandhi will not be able to attend Wednesday’s event and he is likely to remain absent from Parliament in its crucial first week when the general budget and railway budget are to be presented.
His sudden leave has set off speculations about his future role in the party and also that he was unhappy with lobbies of some senior leaders close to the party President, whom he wanted to go in the upcoming AICC reshuffle soon.
Some of the ideas of the Congress Vice President on party reforms have not found favour with a dominant section of the old guard and the tension between the two sets of viewpoints have been reflected time and again, party sources said.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi, however, rejected the speculations saying he “condemns and denies such unjustifiable” questions”.
He said Rahul Gandhi requested the Congress President that he needs a few weeks time to “reflect both on recent events related to the party and its future course” as he believes that this “introspection” is vital for the party.
“He (Rahul) believes that the AICC session (expected in the first week of April) is vital and he would like to give specific inputs on this. He wants to do introspection with what happened with regard to Congress in recent times and earlier,” Singhvi said.
The Congress spokesperson said that after applying his mind on these issues, Rahul will “return to resume his active participation in political affairs of Congress.”
One of the possibilities being speculated was that Rahul Gandhi could be made party President replacing Sonia Gandhi at the AICC meet.
Singhvi, however, chose to duck the question on whether Gandhi could excuse himself from this role now after a string of electoral defeats for the party under his leadership.
“He has sought time to reflect on recent events and future course of the party. It has nothing to do with his role in the party. He has gone to reflect on party affairs and not on his role,” he said.
Singhvi also said all the ideas germinated and nurtured by Rahul Gandhi are being implemented in the party.
“All other speculations are denied and condemned. They are unfair,” he said.
In a surprise move, Rahul Gandhi went on a sabbatical “for a few weeks” following the party’s wipe-out in Delhi Assembly elections on top of a string of electoral losses, setting tongues wagging about his future plans.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said that Rahul was granted leave for a few weeks as he neeeded it.
Asked why Gandhi chose to skip the budget session, Singhvi said,”he is going for a much shorter period” but declined to answer whether the Congress Vice President was in India or abroad
The Congress spokesperson also criticised the media for not making it an issue when leaders from other parties like Prime Miinster Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal take a break.
“It is between him and the party. Why should anybody else have a problem?” he said dismising questions about timing of the leave saying his taking leave at any other time would also have come under questioins.
While making it clear that Gandhi will not attend Wednesday’s Congress demonstration at Jantar Mantar against land ordinance, the party spokesperson said “all these things will be done under his leadership.”
Replying to question whether Rahul Gandhi will also contemplate about his role in the party during his sabbatical, Singhvi said “it’s reform orientation for party affairs and not about his role…He has sought time to reflect on future course of the party and recent events connected with it.