Rahul Gandhi back from sabbatical, first test soon

Rajat Kain

rahul_gandhiRahul Gandhi is finally back after a leave of absence which he took to reflect upon himself and his party’s future.

His 57-day sabbatical began on the 14th February this year, the first day of the budget session’s first leg. The news of his sabbatical was followed by the speculations about his own political future. His ‘leave’ from work came at the time when Congress party was preparing for taking on BJP-led Central government head-on over the host of issue and especially the Ordinance on Land Acquisition Bill. Rahul Gandhi was instrumental in getting the Congress-led UPA government to bring in a legislation which was hailed by the farmers and several social groups.

Incidentally, the first assignment that Congress party’s Vice President is expected to participate in will be a party rally against re-issue of Land Ordinance on the 19th April. Since few weeks, the party leaders have been talking about the Mr. Gandhi’s ‘active’ return in the backdrop of an important rally against NDA government.

Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi arrived at the Delhi airport from Bangkok. At the airport he was received by his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Later as he reached his 12 Tughlaq lane residence, the party workers welcomed him amid the bursting of firecrackers.

The curious crowd of the passers-by looked on as the Congress workers, desperate for some electoral reversals and success, cheered to the sight of their number 2 leader finally returning home.

Ever since his leave of absence, the Congressmen had to defend his sabbatical, opposition jibes as well as embarrassing questions raised by party leaders over his leadership and his imminent take over as the party chief.

What added to the difficulty of party workers was the elastic deadline which kept extending, even prompting his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi to quell speculations arising out of his absence. “Rahul Gandhi will be with you very soon”, Sonia Gandhi had told the press during her visits to meet rain-hit farmers earlier this month.

Sonia Gandhi has been instrumental in keeping Congress party and its opposition against NDA government both relevant and in high spirits. She had led the collective opposition parties from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhawan against the BJP government over the issue of Land Ordinance.

However, another volatile topic expected to be debated in the party circles could be the change of guard at the top level. There have been disparate voices over the expected move to crown Rahul Gandhi as president of the Congress party. Off late party heavyweights like Capt. Amrinder Singh, Sheila Dikshit and now even her son and former MP Sandeep Dikshit has subtly voiced that immediate change of guard may not be beneficial for the party.

The 44-year old is now expected to restart his political innings by co-leading the massive farmer’s rally against the Modi government on coming Sunday.

His presence at the rally may drop hints of what Rahul Gandhi has been thinking about the direction party should take and where he see himself amidst that.