Stage set for Rahul Gandhi's return as Congress chief

Stage set for Rahul Gandhi's return as Congress chief

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and former prime minister Manmohan Singh interact as party President Sonia Gandhi looks on, during party's 'Bharat Bachao' rally at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. (PTI Photo)

After a six-month gap since the Lok Sabha poll debacle, Rahul Gandhi returned to the centre stage in the Congress amid calls for his reinstatement as party chief.

Addressing Bharat Bachao rally at the packed Ramlila Maidan here, the 49-year-old Rahul was back to his usual self, accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of helping the latter’s select businessmen friends, handling of the economy and ignoring the problems faced by the farmers and the poor.

Rahul had been staying away from party affairs since his resignation as Congress president in June accepting responsibility for the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. He had spent the past six months taking “meditation vacations” in Southeast Asian nations, while a section in the party demanded a larger role for his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in party affairs.

However, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had made it clear to party leaders that Rahul was her choice to lead the party.

Addressing the rally, Priyanka also referred to Rahul as “my leader”, sending a clear signal to party leaders that her elder brother was the one to take the party forward.

Over the past few days, several Congress leaders including Chhatisgarh Chief Minister Bhupeh Baghel and AICC general secretary K C Venugopal had called for Rahul’s return as party president.

Ramlila Maidan, the rally venue, was dotted with several 30-feet cut-outs of Rahul with Sonia, and Priyanka making a token appearance on a couple of them.

Hitting out at the BJP government, Rahul demanded that Modi should tender an apology to the nation for “destroying” the economy.

The former Congress president said that Modi has succeeded in doing what India’s enemies had failed to do—’destroy India’s economy’. “And still he (Modi) calls himself a patriot,” Rahul said.

“Manmohan Singh and Chidamabaram warned him (Modi) against implementing GST without a pilot project. But he insisted on going ahead,” Rahul said.

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