If Rahul Gandhi had missed out on something the most during his leave of absence, it was the “action” over attempts to make changes to a UPA-era law that reflects his ideas.
The 44-year old Congress vice-president, who wants to transform the grand old party into a new-age political machinery, missed the first half of the Budget session when a combative Opposition — with his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi at the forefront — took on the Narendra Modi government.
Sonia led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan and engaged in floor coordination among opposition parties in Parliament to stall the NDA government’s move to pass the land bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Rahul had spearheaded the party’s movement against land acquisition in 2011 in politically-sensitive Uttar Pradesh. The subsequent law passed by the UPA in 2013, which gave farmers the right to reject any land acquisition bid, reflected his ideas.
“He missed the party more than the party missed him,” observed a senior Congress leader.
In his absence, Sonia walked down to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s home along with several top leaders to show solidarity when a CBI court issued summons to him in a coal block allocation case. She held discussions with prominent lawyers in her party, including Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram and KTS Tulsi, on the future course of action.
When he was away, Parliament debated the insurance bill and coal and mines bills. These involved interests of the aam aadmi or commoners and tribals, the Congress’s focus areas.
The party also took on the establishment over the alleged “snooping” on him — this too, in his absence.