Public events, meet with British MPs, part of Rahul Gandhi’s UK schedule

This will be the first time Rahul Gandhi, as Congress president, will speak in public before audiences in London on key issues in India’s contemporary politics and economy. He has been a frequent visitor to Britain, but has so far not held public events.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2018 23:52 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Rahul Gandhi,United Kingdom,Indian Journalists Association
On Rahul Gandhi’s agenda on August 24 and 25 is a “working lunch” with the Indian Journalists Association and a “conversation” with London School of Economics academic Mukulika Banerjee.(PTI/File Photo)

Comparisons with two outreach events of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in London since November 2015 will be inevitable when Congress president Rahul Gandhi holds a series of interactive events with journalists and others next week.

It will be the first time that Gandhi, as Congress president, will speak in public before audiences in London on key issues in India’s contemporary politics and economy. He has been a frequent visitor to Britain, but has so far not held public events.

Modi addressed two majorevents that were televised live during his visits in November 2015 and April this year.

On Gandhi'sagenda on August 24 and 25is a “working lunch” with the Indian Journalists Association (established in May 1947) anda “conversation” with London School of Economics academic Mukulika Banerjee.

His sessionswill begin on August 24 morning witha session at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) on ‘India’s economic growth and foreign policy in an uncertain world’, followed by an on-the-record Q&A session.

IISS’s notice mentions that the event is limited to a “select group”, and notes that “India’s next general elections take place in 8 months”. The notice includes a detailed CV, which mentions that Gandhi is a “black belt in Aikido and a qualified pilot”.

Gandhi, who will reach London on August 23 evening from Germany, will also join what the Indian Overseas Congress UK called a “mega conference”, and address MPs in an event in Parliament complex in Westminster.

There are some misgivings over the timing of Gandhi’s events due to the current holiday season, when students and others are away from London, but organisers are confident of an enthusiastic turnout.

There is also a possibility of Gandhi’s political opponents demonstrating outside the venue of his events. He is also likely to meet ministers in the Theresa May government, particularly those in the Foreign Office, and visit Birmingham.

Organised by Sam Pitroda, a long-time associate of the Gandhi family, hissessions in London follow those at the US-based universities of Berkeley, Princeton and New York in September last year, when his performance was noted as indicators of hisgrowing in thenew party role.

In a series of tweets, Pitroda said Friday,“Because of the high demand from NRIs and political, business, academia, Intellectuals and media in EU and UK, President of the @INCIndia Indian National Congress Mr. @RahulGandhi will be visiting Germany on Aug 22 & 23rd and London on Aug 24 & 25th.

“It is believed that people abroad are very interested in listening to Mr. @RahulGandhi on the economy, employment, demonetization, security, developments and overall performance of the government and future obstacles, opportunities and challenges in India.”

First Published: Aug 17, 2018 23:51 IST