Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi
CONGRESS vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday (April 16) returned home from his 56-day unexplained sabbatical which had raised questions over his leadership of the party that is struggling to find its feet after a string of electoral defeats.
The 44-year-old leader arrived in New Delhi at 11.15 AM on a Thai Airways plane from Bangkok, ending days of intense speculation over his return and amidst celebrations by party workers who burst crackers outside his residence.
Wearing a dark shirt and seated in the back seat of his vehicle, he arrived escorted by his security personnel and drove straight into the house without interacting with the waiting mediapersons.
The return of Rahul comes ahead of the party’s planned farmers’ rally in New Delhi on the contentious Land Bill issue which he is likely to address.
The plane, which was scheduled to land at 10.35 AM, was delayed by 40 minutes, sources said. Shortly later, Rahul drove to his 12, Tughlaq Lane residence where his mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka were waiting.
Rahul had left quietly before the Budget session began on February 23 but it is still not known where he had spent the days.
The party had then said that he “requested Congress President Sonia Gandhi for some time to reflect on recent events and future course of the party”.
Ever since the announcement of his temporary break from political life, there has been speculation that he was unhappy with not getting a free hand to run the party, a contention which the party has officially denied.
Rahul’s leave had come amid talk of an All India Congress Committee (AICC) session, where he was expected to be elevated as Congress President.
During his absence, several party leaders including former chief ministers Amarinder Singh and Sheila Dikshit came out in the open pitching for Sonia Gandhi to continue as president and raised questions over his leadership.