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Ahead of the northeast poll results, Rahul Gandhi took off for Italy to visit his maternal grandmother. He is now headed for Singapore and Malaysia. His absence during a crucial election season has drawn criticism, especially from the BJP.

ThePrint asks: Does Rahul Gandhi get the timing of his foreign visits mostly wrong?

Rahul Gandhi’s holidays show an abandonment of responsibility, refusal to be accountable

Kanchan Gupta
Political commentator 

The latest foreign visit of Rahul Gandhi comes in the backdrop of elections in three northeastern states. While there was very little campaigning the Congress did in Tripura — the story that did the rounds was that there was a tacit understanding between the CPI (M) and them — Rahul Gandhi campaigned heavily in Meghalaya. He invested a lot of time and energy in the state. The Congress also tried to make its presence felt in Nagaland through the Church. But suddenly, he just upped and left days before the election results were announced.

Frankly, any politician travelling abroad on a private visit is alright and inconsequential. Unlike in the past, this time, Rahul Gandhi even made a public announcement that he was going to Italy to meet his nani on Holi. What surprised me was that any serious politician would consider various factors before planning a foreign visit.

Rahul Gandhi is the president of a national party. He cannot just jazz off to Italy at the time of an election in that country. It could be coincidental, but the fact remains it was not just anybody travelling to Italy. It was the president of the Congress and he cannot be in denial of his family’s Italian baggage.

That apart, on the day of the election results, he was missing in action. A facetious explanation could be that the northeast doesn’t figure high on his list of priorities. But that isn’t how politics works. Politics is a 24×7 profession, and irrespective of the size and location of a state, you have to run the whole course of the election, from contesting and campaigning to waiting for the results.

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Responding to an electoral outcome isn’t just about making a victory speech if you win or mumble an explanation if you lose. You have to be there for the workers and supporters of your party, especially when you lose. If you are missing, the message you are sending is that you have abandoned them when they need you the most. Consequently, they will not want to stay with a party whose leadership is callous, uncaring and indifferent to them.

Rahul Gandhi should have been in Shillong or at least in Delhi, monitoring the post-election deal-making to forge a coalition. Instead, he wasn’t even in the country. Unsurprisingly, the Congress leaders who were sent to Meghalaya found it impossible to speak to anyone. The message that the party president wasn’t interested had already reached them.

This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last either, that Rahul has disappeared. It shows political immaturity, an abandonment of responsibility, and refusal to be accountable. It was a politically incorrect and disastrous thing to do. He has since shown no regret, which tells us Rahul will keep getting his sums wrong and blotting his notebook. Pity the Congress.

Perhaps, it’s privacy that Rahul Gandhi seeks, which is a strict no-no for Indian-bred politicians

Dilip Cherian
Communications consultant, political campaign adviser

Rahul Gandhi’s jaunts get far more attention than they merit in the media and otherwise. The Prime Minister’s jaunts are perhaps equally frequent (but then, of course, he is our own peripatetic Prime Minister). If you add the number of global heads of state visiting, the Prime Minister’s net face time on matters overseas is probably substantially higher than that of his counterparts.

But, let’s try and understand why Rahul Gandhi goes ‘stir-crazy’ if he stays in India for too long. Perhaps he seeks privacy — a strict no-no for Indian-bred politicians. Or maybe he’s seeking to clear his mind space? It’s a little difficult to fathom; except that he has managed to rein in his intemperate comments.

Perhaps he travels to hear younger global voices? But then there are so many of them floating locally that it’s not quite an excuse. Or maybe he goes overseas to connect with India’s powerful and wealthy diaspora? Aha! There may be a clue there. Whatever it is, aside from a visit to see an aging nani, most of his visits these days have at least some official or speaking engagement.

The reason for the diatribes is possibly that any young leader attempting to resuscitate his rapidly dwindling electoral base needs to be more full-on, and full-tilt, in his visibility and management approach. If it’s about spacing it out, visits to the unsung parts of India might provide a couple of elements that are also a part of his task. But what else drives him, we’re still left guessing.

Politics is a never-ending ruckus. By that logic, Rahul Gandhi must never leave India

Harish Bijoor
Brand Guru, founder,Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.

Poor Rahul Gandhi! Everything he does is under scrutiny. Everything he doesn’t do is under deeper scrutiny still. It’s the price you pay for a life in public space, I guess.

The latest brouhaha is all about his trip to Italy to see his grandma a day before the counting of votes for the NE elections was about to begin.
This sure is politics. The buzz is that if Rahul knew the Congress would do well, he would have stayed back. Really? Is it fair for one to think for the guy? In any case, who knows what is packed in those opaque EVMs anymore?

Rahul Gandhi is sure jinxed on this count. His every sojourn out of the country sure is ill-timed. But then, in the life of a politician in India, is there anything called well-timed at all? There is an election every other month. There is a scam every other week now. Politics is a ruckus that never ever stops. By this standard, Rahul Gandhi must never ever step out of the country. Or if he must, he should be able to come back in five hours flat!

The key problem is the fact that Rahul Gandhi is not considered a full-time politician even today. He needs to change that image quick and fast. Out there on the other side of the Congress fence is PM Modi. A full-time PM. The comparison always is with our dear dynamic, 24X7 Mr Modi.

We must, however, remember one thing in this comparison. One of them is the PM of this country, and the other the president of a political party, and, for sure, an MP to boot. And comparisons typically are odious. To each their own.

If Rahul Gandhi wants to change Congress, he can start by not vanishing during hard times

Yahswant Deshmukh
Founder-director, CVoter International

It is one thing if something crucial happens out of the blue when a leader is away. It is quite another when events are scheduled, like elections. Rahul Gandhi was well aware of the election schedule for the northeast and should have been careful about choosing his travel dates.

His frequent travels will only cause people to look at his trips with suspicion. That is a part of politics. Some of his trips have been completely mistimed, almost leading to him being labelled an escapist. That is something Congress strategists should think about. Leaders are only taken seriously when they are there to lead during bad times.

Rahul Gandhi has to take responsibility as the captain of the team. It should not fall on the local leadership to take the blame. This kind of approach, where the local leadership takes the failures and the central leadership takes the credit, is why the Congress is at the pathetic tally of 48 seats in the Lok Sabha.

As a team leader, if he had taken responsibility, people would take him more seriously. However, it’s not just Rahul Gandhi’s fault, it is the inherent Congress culture. The credit for the good things always went to Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and the bad results were attributed to the local leadership. As for Rahul Gandhi, if you’re winning in Punjab because of Amrinder Singh and you try to take the credit, no one is going to give it to you.

If Rahul Gandhi, as he claims, wants to change the Congress and reinvent it, he has to start with himself. He has to be there during the difficult times.

 He is not a 24×7 politician like Prime Minister Modi

Kalyani Shankar
Columnist, former political editor of the Hindustan Times

Congress president Rahul Gandhi is known for his habit of playing truant and escaping from the drudgery of party work to have short holidays abroad. He certainly gets the timing wrong.

This could be because he was forced into politics and is known as a reluctant leader. He is not a 24×7 politician like Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His luxurious lifestyle and foreign jaunts often get trolled on social media. Not all his foreign trips are holidays as sometimes he clubs them with work, like he did in the US, Norway and Dubai by addressing the Indian diaspora.

His party members are often embarrassed when they find him out of the country at the end of some major event as it made for bad optics. He keeps his friends and foes guessing about his destination. Soon after his party’s humiliation in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he disappeared for 54 days for a sabbatical. Last year, when the entire opposition was agitated about farmers’ suicides in Madhya Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi went off on a holiday. There are many more such instances.

The opposition has targeted him for his absence during the counting of assembly election votes in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland, but he was visiting his grandmother in Italy. Some senior Congress leaders pointed out that while he may have gone away for short spells earlier, he no longer had the luxury to do so after becoming the party president. In India, leaders are not known for taking holidays.

Compiled by Deeksha Bhardwaj, Journalist at ThePrint.

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16 Comments Share Your Views


  1. The problem is that most of the columnist. are earning bread and butter for their family. People of low ethics and morals seek solace in passing judgement .Most of these comments are to appease their masters and their mundane needs

  2. Not an issue. It gives greater edge to BJP. Many a times BJP has to fight with local party in an armoured way while with congress a national party it has become cake walk to BJP. Let them enjoy.

  3. It appears that Mr. Rahul Gandhi is not a serious politician. His timings of the foreign visits are always wrong. He leaves the country when he should have been here to guide the party.
    He should learn ” how to do politics & win at any cost ” from his opponents.

  4. I only wish every politician in India had a father, grandmother and a great grandfather like him. Then there would be no poverty, no unemployment! When I was in school, I had read Nehru’s last testament. I do not know how many of today’s Congress men have read it including Rahul Gandhi to talk about unemployment and poverty!

  5. He is doing a great job !
    Italian Congress NOT getting more than 24 seats in Parlament IN NEXT 2019 elections.

  6. I really appreciate for cooperating with NaMo in his well planned national agenda ! If somebody is thinking that Rahul Baba is going on his foreign jaunts for fun and frolic , they are focussing on this immediate gain, they fail to see his distant vision. — — — he wants his name to be closely associated with a great historical move a foot. काँग्रेसमुक्त भारत !!! Remember in India, Sun starts his journey from the East ! ! !

  7. I fully agree with all that has been written in this column. Rahul Gandhi shouldn’t be such a casual leader who abandon his sheep and runs away. As the President of a national party, he must be more responsible. In my observation, he is happy to receive fame and recognition from others. He has not learnt yet to put the country first. But who is going to teach him? Even if somebody points out to him of his casual attitude, will he accept and mend his ways? If not, Congress will miserably lose all elections. Better to choose some other person as leader. He also doesn’t know how to work with allies.

  8. I do not understand why the media is so obessed with Rahul Gandhi.Will his stay in India during counting will change the votes in the EVM in Congress favor? With two MLAs in sixty number Assembly BJP could form a Government and you Media is boasting about it.Do you not know the BJP is power hungry and throw away all human decency to come to power? Please be Fair.

    • While you are asking bjp about Meghalaya where it is a junior partner please ask congress how they rule bmc despite bjp getting a majority?

  9. He has too much money to bother about ‘petty’ things like showing his merit. It is a proven fact that free or inherited money reduces an individual’s motivation because most basic and security needs have been met. And his party’s sycophants satisfy his esteem/ego needs. Finally, it takes exceptional hard-work to satisfy one’s self-actualisation need, which in his case does not seem to exist. His life is good!!!

  10. But many people think that his foreign visits are timed perfectly right “for him”! Normally his visits follow some huge financial upheavals in India, the latest being Nirav Modi’s case. May be he goes abroad to investigate scams !?

  11. राहुल गांधी सिर्फ लोकसभा चुनाव में कांग्रेस से हाजिर रहने वाले हैं औरpm बनने का सपना देख रहे हैं

  12. Will the media stop obsessing with the opposition leader and his private life and focus instead on Modi and his opaqueness on policy? The country has thousand corruption scandals, an air pollution emergency, economic turmoil, communal disharmony and a complete breakdown of accountability. and Print is obsessed with Rahul Gandhi’s holidays. Do you journalists publish regular updates of your holidays? He owes noone an explanation. Noone. The other nosey thing is about their illnesses and deaths. Can you guys leave them alone? It’s sick. This invasion of privacy. Be it Parrikar or Swaraj or Sonia Gandhi. It is none of your business. Have the guts to ask the 24×7 machine fit Modi some questions instead.

    • Yes right indians should leave rahul alone be is free all a raja of his jagir india but u should question chowkidaar how dare he goesabroad on holidays spending tax payers money to njoy life there was no corruption fr 10yrs or any nehru gandhi rule but how scams are rumbling out since modi took over poor chidi being harassed after all he helped hison start world over business on public money so whts wrong it’s not scams poor poor cong being harassed by modi stupid people voting him whn rejection g honest Gandhis really shame india need leaders like rahul sonia chidambaram sibal sanghvi honest not chaiwalaa modi wht does he know whts politics

  13. Mr. Harish Bajoor, what do you mean by “In any case, who knows what is packed in those opaque EVMs anymore?”, Can you explain.


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