The Gandhi family and their penchant for vacationing is well known to all, especially since instances of Rajiv Gandhi’s notorious usage of INS Viraat and Nehru’s picnicking on the INS Delhi have come to light. Continuing with this, Amit Shah during his rally in Jamshedpur on Wednesday gave hints of few other questionable holidays. He stated that while PM Modi has been working 18 hours a day for around two decades without taking leave; Congress president Rahul Gandhi dashes off to undisclosed foreign destinations at the slightest discomfort, leaving even his mother worried about his whereabouts. A further dig into this jibe reveals that Rahul Gandhi has inherited the love for exotic vacations from his predecessors, and indulges in them during tumultuous times.
Like every other individual who can afford them, Rahul Gandhi too likes to cool off after his ‘hard work’ in exotic foreign locations. He loves travelling and has almost always taken foreign vacations before, after or during his birthdays. Similarly, the Gandhi scion loves to welcome the New Year amidst beautiful locations. However, this has become a problem as the vacationing is now being viewed as a need instead of a want. Rahul Gandhi has taken a number of vacations which have on paper just been “holidays” but can be viewed as abandoning the country during difficult times.
In June 2013, the entire country was devastated with Uttarakhand’s floods. The state was hit by heavy rainfall and flash floods with an estimated casualty of 6,000 people, along with damage statistic of around 4,200 villages. During this time, the UPA government was in power, both, at the centre and at the state level. The main reason attributed to this was the utter chaos of the administration, even as the army had been trying to rescue people. Then Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had categorically admitted that there was no coordination among government agencies, which was hampering rescue operations. In such a situation, Rahul Gandhi, being the Congress vice president had chosen to go off to some exotic foreign locale and had only visited the state 2 weeks after the devastation began, a day after Narendra Modi began rescue operations.
Similarly, even during the Kerala floods last year, Rahul Gandhi was nowhere around the scene. The floods were devastating, with over 483 people losing their lives. Congress was the leader of opposition in the state and even so, as the president of the Congress party, he was responsible to the people of Kerala to provide reliefs. During that time, he was roaming around in Berlin and London and only visited Kerala much later upon his return.
Moreover, ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it was rumoured all over social media that Rahul Gandhi had abandoned the party before the crucial elections and had gone off to a secret location. Thereafter, a photo of him roaming on an open jeep had emerged and therefore it was speculated that he was in Ranthambore National Park. Needless to say, the party had reached its lowest point in history during those elections, securing just about 44 seats.
After this, Rahul Gandhi made it a habit to go off gallivanting during any election around. Perhaps the party believed his non-presence would lead to higher electoral benefits, without his interference and faux pas. During the Bihar assembly elections in 2015, Rahul Gandhi was missing from the scene and was on a visit to the USA. According to BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra, Rahul Gandhi had left because Congress’ allies JD(U) and RJD wanted him out of the Bihar poll campaign. He also stated that the alliance was already fighting charges of “arrogance and jungle raaj”, and that Rahul’s presence would have added the issue of corruption against them. Nevertheless, Congress should have realised that his responsibility as the Congress vice president is immense and irrespective of the general narrative on his leadership abilities, he should have stayed with the party.
Moreover, he had even left the country before the assembly elections in 2018. When the parties were preparing for the elections, Rahul Gandhi was off to London to celebrate New Year’s evening.
Rahul Gandhi’s New Year celebration in London is quite a requisite, which is evident from the fact that right in the midst of the demonetization, he had deemed his vacation to be a priority. The Congress was protesting against the demonetization decision by PM Modi and his absence put a break on the momentum gained by the Congress on the issue. Congress had planned a protest of party workers on January 2 and 3 which Rahul Gandhi missed due to his travel plans and hence the message obviously wasn’t effective in the absence of the leader.
Rahul Gandhi, it seems, has been planning his vacations to coincide with the important events in the country. Back in 2015, during the crucial budgetary period in the country, when Sonia Gandhi had been leading the opposition’s protest against the Land Acquisition Bill, Rahul Gandhi was on a 56-day sabbatical. While he had been roaming around in Myanmar and Cambodia, his own party leaders had come out in the open pitching for Sonia Gandhi to continue as president and had even raised questions over his leadership.
Shying away during the hour of the need is nothing new for the party. In the 1971 India-Pakistan war, the holidays of all the pilots had been cancelled, except one- Rajiv Gandhi. Since his mother was the Prime Minister, she had sought to shield her son from the war whose orders she herself gave. Like a group of cowards, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi along with the children Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi had left the country and rushed off to Italy, and had only come back once the matters were dealt with.
Rahul Gandhi has apparently imbibed the art of dealing with difficult situations from his predecessors- by running away. This habit of his is making the people view him as a “part-time politician”, which is furthering the insults and jibes attributed to him, especially, when compared with his opponents such as PM Modi and Amit Shah who have been working without taking a day off since the past 20 years. A vacation or two is understandable and more so, needed by any prudent person. However, Rahul Gandhi’s penchant for vacations has become a problem for him as the vacations are consistently being taken during the times when the country needs him the most, due to which he is being viewed as someone who doesn’t have his heart in the job.