Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi returned home on Thursday after a nearly two-month-long leave of absence, a vacation which had invited snide remarks from the ruling BJP and triggered an avalanche of
speculation on social media
Sources said Rahul landed in Delhi at around 11 am on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok and reached his central Delhi home an hour later. However, details of Gandhi's trip were not available.
This was the longest sabbatical from active politics for Rahul who is an MP for 11 years.
Rahul's 57-day-long vacation, which the Congress said was time off for "introspection", came amidst a fluid political season that saw his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi leading the opposition's protest against the controversial land acquisition bill.
A section of senior Congress leaders had also questioned the party vice-president's potential to lead the party.
The Congress, however, has been defending his absence all these days, saying he needed to chart out the party's future course in "isolation" after a series of electoral drubbings. The party also did not reveal his place of vacation.
When Rahul reached his official residence at 12, Tughlaq Lane, his mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka were present for his homecoming, the sources added.
Earlier, before he was anointed as the party's vice-president, Gandhi had spent 10 days in Chicago at the residence of family-friend Sam Pitroda to introspect on party affairs and brainstorm on his new role.
This time, Rahul took the leave of absence from party affairs on the eve of the parliament's budget session on February 22.
Speculations were rife that Rahul was upset with a section of the party and him not being given a free hand. Congress, however, scotched these speculations and maintained that "he has every right to go on leave" and that his right to privacy should also be respected.
Rahul's engagements for the next few days include a day-long meeting with farmers from different states and a mega rally at the capital's Ramlila ground on April 19.
Gandhi is also expected to meet Dalit leaders, showcasing his focus areas.