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Disrespectful or Stroke of Genius? Here's How Social Media Interpreted Rahul's Hug to Modi

While people debated the legitimacy of the hug, one thing was certain: Rahul Gandhi ensured that all eyes were on him.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com

Updated:July 20, 2018, 7:24 PM IST
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Disrespectful or Stroke of Genius? Here's How Social Media Interpreted Rahul's Hug to Modi
While people debated the legitimacy of the hug, one thing was certain: Rahul Gandhi ensured that all eyes were on him.
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Rahul Gandhi stole the show on Friday with what seemed like an impromptu hug that he showered upon an unprepared Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament during the no-confidence motion.

Just moments before the apparent show of bonhomie, Gandhi had ripped apart the Modi government in his speech, indicting BJP of indulging in 'jumla' strikes, lack of transparency in the Rafael deal and for failing to protect the women of the country among other issues.

Gandhi accused Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of lying in Parliament regarding the Rafael fighter jet deal under the Prime Minister's pressure.

While fending off several interruptions and a call for adjournment by the speaker mid-way through his speech, Gandhi ended his address saying that he knew he was called ‘Pappu’ by his critics but he nevertheless bore no hatred.

But what Gandhi did after his address on live TV soon took the nation by storm.

As the Parliament roared with applause for Gandhi, the Congress President swiftly crossed over to where the PM was sitting and gave him a swift, tight hug.

PM Modi, who may not have been expecting the sudden show of intimacy from his rival, was visibly taken aback.

Though the PM was quick to regain his composure and called Gandhi back for a formal acknowledgment of the hug with a handshake and a smile, media both mainstream and social burst with possible interpretations of the move.

A pithy wink that Gandhi directed toward his party allies after the hug was also telling and became a talking point of the day's session.

Un-Parliamentary and offensive

Many criticized Rahul Gandhi’s behaviour as un-parliamentary and unbecoming of political behaviour.

As Gandhi was hugging the PM, BJP ally Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur objected to the action. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan herself softly spoke into the mic, asking Rahul to ‘stop the drama’. She said that such actions are not suited to the country’s legislature. Referring to the now infamous wink, Mahajan later added that hugging was not a problem but Gandhi needed to respect the post of the PM.

Even on Twitter, several users disapproved of the act, calling it a flout of decorum.







Publicity stunt

Some critics dismissed the act as a childish attempt to hog publicity.

Many from the BJP including MP Kirron Kher objected to the hug, slamming Gandhi for his theatrics and claiming his place was in Bollywood, not politics.

Union Cabinet Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani also criticized Gandhi's hug as a publicity stunt. As did Information and Broadcast minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.







Secular bonhomie But not all were disapproving of Rahul's hug. Many including those within the party such as Shashi Tharoor hailed the Congress President's speech as brave, and interpreted the hug as a sign of political warmth. Gandhi, who spoke about the growing lynchings and violence in the country, was also congratulated for the friendly gesture as a sign of peace and showmanship, with many interpreting it as a declaration of secularism. 





Analysts have also construed the act as a sharp political tactic to disarm the ruling party, as this Twitter user deftly explained:







But while people debated over the legitimacy of the act, one thing was certain. Rahul Gandhi ensured that all eyes were on him, setting the agenda for the rest of the day.
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