‘Pre-planned trip to Korea’: Congress defends Rahul Gandhi for skipping anti-CAA protests

Updated on Dec 18, 2019 09:16 AM IST
Party leaders said that the delegation left India on Sunday, just hours ahead of the Jamia protests, which later turned violent.
Rahul Gandhi with South Korean PM Lee Nak-yon in Seoul on Tuesday.(Twitter/@RahulGandhi)
Rahul Gandhi with South Korean PM Lee Nak-yon in Seoul on Tuesday.(Twitter/@RahulGandhi)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByAmrita Madhukalya

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s trip to South Korea, which has earned him criticism for missing in action during crucial protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019, was planned over the last few months, as per Congress leaders.

A senior party leader, privy to the trip, said that the delegation has been invited to Korea by the Korean Foundation, a not-for-profit public policy organisation. The Foundation, which works on strengthening South Korea’s diplomatic ties with other countries, is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Apart from working on Indo-Korean ties, the leader said, “The delegation was also studying infrastructural and technological projects in Korea to come up with ideas for Congress-ruled states.”

Party leaders said that the delegation left India on Sunday, just hours ahead of the Jamia protests, which later turned violent. Sam Pitroda, chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, and Gandhi’s communications strategist Nikhil Alva were part of the delegation, which included other party functionaries. Before leaving for Korea, Gandhi had tweeted that he “stands in solidarity with those protesting peacefully against the CAB and NRC”.

Gandhi had tweeted a picture of his meeting with prime minister Lee Nak-yon on Tuesday evening. “As a part of an official delegation, I today met with the PM of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency, Lee Nak-yon and other officials, in Seoul. We discussed a wide range of issues, including the current political & economic situation in our respective countries (sic),” Gandhi said in his tweet.  

In Korea, the delegation has held meetings with senior government officials, and meetings with members of the National Assembly, key government industry bodies, foreign policy experts, corporates like Hyundai and Samsung and university students are scheduled. It remained unclear how long is Gandhi’s visit.

The leader mentioned above said that the objective of the visit was to strengthen ties between the two countries.

“And, to get a first hand view of how Korea is successfully tackling the challenges of low cost housing, environmental degradation, developing massive infrastructure projects and staying at the forefront of technological and scientific innovation,” said the leader. “There is much to be learnt from this visit and strong networks developed, that can at the very least, benefit states that have Congress Governments in place.”

Gandhi’s absence from the protests, which broken out across educational institutions and states in opposition to the CAA, has earned him a fair amount of criticism. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday took out an impromptu dharna at the India Gate in solidarity with the protesters.

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