UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday skipped the event in which former President Pranab Mukherjee was conferred the Bharat Ratna by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The absence of the mother-son duo from the award function to honour the party veteran surprised many Congress leaders and fuelled speculations that if this had anything to do with Mukherjee accepting an invitation to deliver an annual lecture RSS headquarters in 2018.
While all the top leaders from the BJP party line were present in the event, only a few from the Congress could be spotted. Among them were CWC member Anand Sharma, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor, former Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and former AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.
Mukherjee had worked closely with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was among the top leaders of the Congress since the early 1980s, and headed the ministries of finance, external affairs and defence. He won the election for President in 2012.
While Mukherjee’s decision to visit RSS headquarters in Nagpur last year had drawn criticism from sections opposed to the BJP and RSS, other sections had praised him for his decision to engage with ideologically divergent people.
Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi on Friday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought assistance in tackling the flood situation in Kerala, including his constituency Wayanad.