Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s six-minute speech at Deoli in Rajasthan’s Tonk district on Monday has left the party strategists worried, as a number of big rallies have been planned for their star speaker in the run-up to the elections.
But this was not the first time in the recent past that Gandhi has abruptly cut short his speech in an election rally address.
During the Delhi assembly elections last year, Gandhi finished his speech at a public rally in Dakshinpuri on November 18 in just about six-seven minutes. He was campaigning for party candidate Choudhary Prem Singh from Ambedkar Nagar constituency, a Congress stronghold for decades.
Singh, who had never lost an election since 1958, stood third, with AAP’s Ashok Kumar walking away with the seat.
The Congress had then blamed poor turnout for Gandhi’s short speech. Even then Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s repeated requests to the crowd to stay back and listen to what Gandhi had to say didn’t work with the crowd.
Prior to that, his first rally for Delhi elections at Mangolpuri on October 27 saw the crowd leaving the ground as he began to speak.
But the Deoli turnout on Monday was described by many Congress leaders as “good”. This was his first rally in Rajasthan, where the BJP had trounced the Congress in the assembly elections last year.
State Congress leaders were left wondering why he made such a brief speech. Many party seniors were visibly uncomfortable over his remarks that the charge of the state unit had been handed over to young Sachin Pilot and that more fresh faces would be encouraged.