For many, Rahul Gandhi is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Forgive his partymen, even his public antics are beyond SPG’s apprehension which guards him 24x7. But the 44-year-old Congress Vice President whose lack of connection with voters was attributed to his party’s poor showing election after election has shown remarkable energy this time, leading to suggestions that his mysterious 57-day sabbatical has enlightened him. Ever since he has come back from his leave of absence in Parliament, Rahul has been firing on all cylinders. Nobody knows if the Gandhi scion is expanding his constituency during these sojourns, but for sure he is making the ruling NDA defensive at times. Some reports on Rahul 2.0.
Ramlila Maidan, April 19
This was more a Rahul Relaunch rally than a farmers’ rally, organised in protest against the changes made to the 2013 Land Acquisition Bill by the BJP.
Here, he launched an all-out attack on the NDA government for its “anti-farmer and pro-industrialist policies”.
He accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of introducing the Land Acquisition Ordinance in order to pay back industrialists who had helped him to “win the Lok Sabha election”.
Lok Sabha April 20
Opening his Parliament appearance with a pro-corporate and anti-farmer jibe at the government, Rahul promised a political duel with the NDA. He took digs at the government during his first speech after coming from leave, perhaps living up to the expectations of his cheering colleagues. He said the “achhe din govt has failed the country”. In his blistering attack on the government, he dubbed it a “suit-boot ki sarkar that neglects farmers and labourers”.
Lok Sabha, April 22
He accused the Modi government of trying to give Internet space to corporates. He said over a million people are fighting for net neutrality on social media. “The Modi government is trying to carve out the net and hand it to the corporates,” he added
Uttarakhand, April 23
He trekked 18 km up the Uttarakhand mountains to offer prayers at the shrine in Kedarnath, which bore the brunt of flash floods two years ago. No politics please! Rahul undertook the yatra because of his “personal belief”, and hence he chose to trek the whole distance. He might have taken a ‘right’ decision.
Punjab, April 28
At Sirhind, Gobindgarh and Khanna mandis (agricultural markets), Rahul met farmers to discuss the Land Acquisition Bill and the impact of unseasonal rains on crops. He instructed his cavalcade not to flou traffic rules and shunned a red beacon atop his SUV. In the grain market, when people could not see and hear him as he was mobbed by congress leaders and workers, he climbed to the roof of the vehicle and addressed the gathering. Rahul travelled in the general compartment of Sachkhand Express from New Delhi to Ambala and interacted with regular travellers in the train on his way to promoting an ‘aam aadmi’ image.
Lok Sabha, April 29
Rahul once again raised the issue of farmers, targeting Prime Minister Modi. “Farmers are crying in mandis; they are in pain and your minister (in Haryana) says farmers who are committing suicide are cowards, criminals. Your government did not help, farmers suffered. You stopped their bonus, farmers suffered. They cannot even sell their produce.” He added, “The Indian Prime Minister is in the country for some time. He should visit Punjab and listen to farmers.
Do farmers not “Make in India?” If a farmer suffering from losses is compensated, it is your gain, not ours. You should procure grain from mandis as soon as possible.”
Maharashtra, April 3
Rahul visited five villages in Amravati in the Vidarbha region where over 600 debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide since January. Later, he described his interaction during his 15-km ‘padyatra’ as “disturbing”.
He also met, among others, the family of farmer Ambadas Wahile, who drank pesticide in February.
Nepal Embassy in Delhi, May 1
In a late wakeup to the emergency in Nepal, Rahul visited the embassy to condole the death of thousands in a devastating earthquake and wrote in the visitors’ diary. Speaking to the Nepal Ambassador and other officials, he offered all possible help.
AICC office, May 2
Rahul met people who have booked flats in NCR and heard their complaints against the recently approved Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill. He told the media that the government has cheated people. “People who are paying for flats aren’t given possession and are made fake promises,” he said.
Bihar, May 2
The Congress has announced Rahul’s plans to visit earthquake-hit areas Raxaul, Darbhanga, and Sitamarhi, to take stock of the ongoing rescue and relief operations there.