Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was on a foreign holiday over the first week of the new year, is back in the national capital, news agency ANI reported. Gandhi is reported to have arrived in the country Monday night.
On December 31, Gandhi’s official Twitter handle @OfficeOfRG had tweeted that he would be travelling ‘over the next few days’ although it wasn’t clear where he was going. The Congress leader is known to go for short holidays during the new year.
Gandhi’s departure from the country came at a critical time when five states, including the politically crucial Hindi heartland of Uttar Pradesh, is scheduled to go to polls from February 4. Leaders in Punjab, where the Congress is fighting to come back to power after ten years, have been eagerly awaiting the return of the Congress leader so that the party could finalise its candidate list in 40 constituencies yet to be declared.
“Our camp was abuzz till yesterday that he would come back today. But this has not happened. We have been told he is returning on January 9. This is shocking as when all other parties are in campaign mode, our senior leader is holidaying,” a ticket seeker in Delhi had told the Indian Express.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, ex-BJP leader, has also expressed his desire to join the Congress in the presence of Gandhi. The fiery orator, who left the BJP months ago, will most likely fight the elections from Amritsar East, a constituency currently held by his wife.
Gandhi’s absence from the political scene also came at a time when the ruling SP in Uttar Pradesh has been locked in a bitter power struggle between factions led by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh. Although earlier reports indicated Akhilesh, in the event of a split from his father, would ally with the Congress, that estimation seems premature now that the SP leader has been named the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
In the five states going to polls this summer, Congress holds power in Manipur and Uttarakhand.