Rahul Gandhi is off to a tour abroad. The former Congress president will be going back to his alma mater Cambridge to address a seminar and speak on several issues, including China and democracy. It’s quite possible Gandhi may make a reference to the Adani issue and the fact that comments of many Congress leaders have been expunged.
Gandhi’s visit comes just after the end of the first leg of his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. It also comes amid many editorials and even comments by British entrepreneur George Soros, which suggest that the Adani row will lead to “democratic revival and also change electoral trends”.
While his trip is expected to have fireworks, this is not the first time Gandhi’s official visits abroad have ended up becoming controversial and embarrassed the party, while also giving ammunition to the BJP.
The most recent one was in May 2022 when Gandhi met known India baiter and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who, among many things, questioned the status of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India. This was at the Cambridge seminar on ‘India at 75’. Another controversy that arose then was that Rahul Gandhi, unlike his co-traveller RJD MP Manoj Jha, did not take mandatory government clearance. This was dismissed by Congress which said an MP needs no clearance.
In 2018, during a visit to Singapore to the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Gandhi triggered another row and was attacked by the BJP for demeaning the prestige of his country abroad.
The Congress leader said: “There is a particular type of politics that’s not only happening in India but in a number of places — of dividing people, of using their anger to win elections and that’s what is happening in India.” He went on to add that unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he loved even those who disliked him.
In august 2018, Gandhi likened the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to the terrorist organisation Muslim Brotherhood. “The RSS idea is similar to the idea of Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world,” he said at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a think tank based in London.
In 2017 in Berkeley, Gandhi said Dalits and Muslims were being shot in India. “This is new in India, it damages the idea of India,” he said. Several more controversial comments followed like when he said violence against women was increasing in the country or when at a German university in 2018, Gandhi said China was expanding and flourishing unlike India.
The jury is out as to whether any MP or politician has the right to speak against his own country abroad. According to the Congress, when PM Modi travels abroad, he spares no chance to attack the Congress or former prime ministers like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
“As a prime minister, this is even more unacceptable. Rahul Gandhi is only being a true politician and showing the mirror,” some in the Congress say.
The BJP, meanwhile, has its eyes on Gandhi’s impending tour to Cambridge, which comes close to the Parliament session. In case he stokes a controversy, the BJP hopes to use it to counter the narrative pushed by Gandhi and Congress against PM Modi and BJP.
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