Sonia, Rahul skip key Cong occasion

New Delhi, December 28

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and former chief Rahul Gandhi skipped an event held hereon Monday to mark the 136th foundation day of the party. Former Defence Minister AK Antony did the honours of flag-hoisting in the absence of the two top leaders.

As Rahul left on a short personal visit abroad yesterday, the Congress rose in his defence, saying he was not the incumbent party president.

“Rahul Gandhi is currently not the Congress president. He is discharging the responsibility the party gives him…. Can’t he go to visit an ailing family member? He is on a short personal visit to see a seriously ill family member. He is not on leave. He has also gone to visit his maternal grandmother. I don’t think the BJP should have any objection to this,” Congress media head Randeep Surjewala said, answering queries about the conspicuous absence of Rahul from the party’s most important annual event, especially at a time when some dissenters are active in the party.

Surjewala, who attended the ceremony, however, sought to deflect the issue and said the question today was not where Rahul was. “The question is what the Centre is doing to ease the pain of agitating farmers,” asked Surjewala.

AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was present at the ceremony, attacked the Centre for calling farmers “anti-national”. Ghulam Nabi Azad was also on the dais with Antony.

In a video message, Sonia urged the party workers to unite against “dictatorship”. — TNS

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