Rahul to meet Malaysian PM

Rahul to meet Malaysian PM

First solo: Going to the next level

Rahul Gandhi will have a one-on-one meeting on Thursday with  Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Najib Tun Abdul Razak, who is on a five-day-tour to India. This is going to be the first-ever official meeting of the general secretary of the Congress with a visiting foreign dignitary.

Joint Secretary (External Publicity) of the Ministry of External Affairs Vishnu Prakash said Razak would meet the young MP at the Hotel Taj Palace at 10-30 am on Thursday.

Sources said the Malaysian prime minister himself had insisted on a meeting with Rahul during his visit to New Delhi— apparently in a sign of recognition of the emergence of Rahul as a new power-centre in the ruling dispensation.

India and Malaysia are likely to sign at least 13 agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoU) during the visit. The visit is also expected to strengthen trade ties as well as bilateral cooperation in the fields of defence, security, education, biotechnology, energy and information technology.

Ever since the first UPA government took office in May 2004, most of the visiting foreign leaders and other dignitaries have made it a point to include meetings with the Congress president Sonia Gandhi in their itineraries, in addition to those with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior ministers.

Rahul, who is being projected as a future leader of the Congress, was sometimes seen accompanying his mother in receiving the foreign dignitaries at her residence. He was also seen attending banquets hosted by the PM in honour of the visiting leaders of other countries.

During the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Rahul joined his mother in extending a warm welcome to the guest from Dhaka at her 10 Janpath residence.  
Rahul was a member of the delegation that accompanied the PM to Afghanistan in 2005. He went to China with Sonia in August 2008. There he met China’s vice-president Xi Jinping. He also travelled to Bhutan with his mother in 2008.

But the Malaysian prime minister is the first visiting foreign dignitary to seek a one-on-one meeting with Rahul.