Old Grudge, Unfulfilled Demands: Why Rahul Gandhi Remained Absent From Congress's Meet on Delhi Riots
New Delhi: Two days after northeast Delhi witnessed communal violence, which claimed 20 lives, Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party's highest decision-making body, met to condole the deaths and hold a peace march from the party’s headquarters at Akbar Road to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to seek normalcy in the capital.
But one key leader who curiously remained absent from the party’s first firm stance against the violence was Rahul Gandhi.
Party sources said the Gandhi scion is away on a tour and hence could not attend the CWC meeting. Ever since his resignation as the party president in July 2019, there has been confusion over whether he continues to be a CWC member or not.
But Wednesday’s meeting, which was called specifically to discuss the prevailing situation in Delhi, was a special one for which all Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs were summoned. Rahul Gandhi’s absence here was felt by all.
“For many in the Congress, Rahul still remains the best bet. They think if anyone riles the top BJP leadership it is Rahul Gandhi, which is why whenever he stands up in the Lok Sabha or sends out a tweet, he gets an instant response which helps us grab eyeballs,” said a Congress leader.
But the absence of a key leader in critical junctures can never be justified for long. Whether it were protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), students camping at India Gate or the women of Shaheen Bagh, Rahul Gandhi was conspicuous by his absence. Worse, his foreign tours have earned him much ridicule and many feel it just doesn’t affect him anymore.
Sources in the party said the main grudge Rahul Gandhi hold is that when he stepped down from his post after Lok Sabha election results last year, his party didn't stand by him for his beliefs and slogans used in the poll campaign.
The main grudge Rahul Gandhi hold is that when he stepped down from his post after Lok Sabha election results last year, his party didn't stand by him for his beliefs and slogans used in the poll campaign.
Not many in Congress approved of Rahul’s campaign on the alleged corruption in the Rafael fighter jet deal.
His team feels the leaders’ lack of support was due to their vested interests or possible skeletons in their cupboard. Many party seniors also felt that Narendra Modi’s image was intact and the corruption allegations made by Congress were not a saleable poll issue and rejected by the voters.
Also, Rahul’s demand that senior party leaders give way to the young and fresh faces was resisted by the veterans, after which Sonia Gandhi had to step in and ask her son to hold away.
Sources say this grudge has been building up inside him and there is a feeling in his team that the veterans are deliberately keeping his people away and Ashok Tanwar is one such example. They also say that Rahul has not congratulated Bhupinder Hooda on his win till date.
Given the current scenario, it seems Rahul Gandhi will get fully involved only when his words and demands are met. Till then, his absences will remain his way of demanding that things be done his way. But at the cost of the perception which is gaining strength in crisis, Rahul cannot be seen in the middle of action.