New Delhi: Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has once again left for Europe on a personal visit. He is expected to return by the weekend, which will enable him to vote in the presidential election on July 18 and to attend the coming Monsoon Session of Parliament which is due to begin the same day. However, the Congress is due to hold a meeting on Thursday to draw up plans for a “Bharat Jodo Yatra” (Unite India Campaign) which will start on October 2. This will be presided over by his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi’s absence at that meeting is likely to further fuel speculation on the leadership question.
Mr Rahul Gandhi has often been often criticised by the BJP for his frequent visits abroad, which sometimes coincide with crucial Congress meetings on important issues. All this has led the Congress’ political rivals to question the leadership skills of Rahul Gandhi and his intention to take up a national role in reviving his party after a series of electoral debacles in several states. He was abroad last month as well, which is one reason why the lists of the party’s Rajya Sabha nominations had got delayed. Also, he had to postpone his questioning by the Enforcement Directorate as he was travelling outside the country. He had also courted controversy when he was in Nepal to attend the wedding of a journalist friend and his pictures had been found on the social media.