Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi left for the US on Thursday to be with his mother, party president Sonia Gandhi, who is there for a medical checkup. Amid speculation about Rahul’s departure even as criticism simmered within the party about his leadership in the recent elections, the Congress said that Rahul was going to the US to bring Sonia back.
Party sources said Priyanka Vadra had accompanied her mother Sonia to the airport for her departure, and that Rahul would be back with Sonia possibly by the weekend. “The Congress president is fine. She is there for a routine checkup,” said a senior leader.
After the party’s crushing defeat in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the leadership in Delhi — Rahul in particular — has faced allegations of inaction in Manipur and Goa where the Congress could not form the government despite being the single largest party.
In Punjab, the Congress’s victory has largely been attributed to the charisma of Captain Amarinder Singh and not the party leadership in Delhi.
Sources said all was well within the party, and that the US trip was the Gandhis’ personal medical engagement and had nothing to do with politics.
On the question that all the criticism for the Congress defeat was being levelled at the leadership, senior Congress spokesman C P Joshi told reporters that the “political narrative has changed in the country”.
“In 2014 elections, the election management and political narrative completely changed. Rahul Gandhi was the leader who sensed it first and was also the one who changed the narrative of Bihar. It was Nitishji (Kumar) who came forward and then Laluji (Prasad) joined. See the result. We successfully fought Bihar and BJP could do nothing about it,” he said.