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Rahul may return from sabbatical today, to focus on roadmap for Congress

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is likely to emerge from his sabbatical on Wednesday to focus on issues related to farmers and Dalits in order to boost his party's standing.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2015 08:39 IST
HT Correspondent & Agencies
Rahul Gandhi,Rahul's sabbatical,Congress

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who had gone completely off the political map for almost two months, is likely to emerge from his sabbatical on Wednesday to focus on issues related to farmers and Dalits in order to boost his party's standing.

On the eve of the budget session in February, Gandhi had taken a "leave of absence" from party affairs to reflect on recent events and the future course of the party. He later extended his leave twice, which forced the party to defer many decisions as well as its ambitious farmers' rally planned at the capital's iconic Ramlila Ground in the first week of April.

For nearly two months, social media and the political grapevine have speculated about the Congress vice-president's leave of absence, dissected his "introspection" and analysed his political future.

Congress sources said Rahul's office has planned a series of meetings with farmers from different states on April 17. He is slated to attend a much-touted 'kisan rally' on April 19.

The farmers' rally is being seen as a mega event for the Congress in the backdrop of its rigid stand on the land acquisition bill.

The rally, just before the second phase of the budget session, is among the several steps the Congress, along with other opposition parties, is taking to lodge its protest against the government's move, both inside and outside Parliament.

Top Congress leaders, including Sonia, will use the demonstration to attack the government over land reforms that have been derided as "anti-farmer" by political opponents, activists, and farmers' organisations.

In the budget session of Parliament, the Congress had led the opposition's campaign against the government's plans to make land
acquisition easier for industrial and key infrastructure projects, which are a major part of the Prime Minister's economic reform agenda.

The party had earlier staged two demonstrations at Jantar Mantar and topped it with an opposition march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan and submitted a memorandum against the bill.

The Congress party president had led the march but a section of the Congress leaders felt that Rahul's presence would have further bolstered the party's movement on the land bill.

"Once the rally is over, Gandhi will meet Dalit leaders to chalk out a plan for Dalit empowerment which includes a roadmap to enhance representation of scheduled castes in the party organisation," said a source.

The Congress will also celebrate BR Ambedkar's 124th birth anniversary through a series of events.

"Most of the programmes will be finalised after Gandhi returns," the source added.

Though he missed participating in the opposition's movements against the proposed land acquisition bill, the Congress vice-president's future course of action will have a sharpened focus on farmers, the source said.

Rahul will also go to Amethi, his Lok Sabha constituency for 11 years, soon to meet workers and supporters of the area. As of now, there is no plan for any state visit and his plan for a Bharat Yatra too has been shelved.

Even as Rahul was away to "introspect", his team and office members held regular meetings to plan events. On April 13, a marathon meeting was held on the logistics of the kisan rally.

"There are many requests for appointment. Once he returns, Gandhi will take a call on these requests," the source said.

The Congress has spent much of the time defending Gandhi against barbs about his absence but some senior leaders in the party openly expressed frustration at times.

Read: Six weeks on, India wonders where Rahul Gandhi might be

First Published: Apr 15, 2015 08:29 IST