Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
New Delhi: While the Congress leadership is strongly defending Rahul Gandhi for skipping the farewell dinner hosted by his mother Sonia Gandhi in the honour of Dr Manmohan Singh yesterday, Shiv Sena has made a blatant attack on the Congress vice president for disrespecting the outgoing Prime Minister.
Top Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday reacted by saying, “Rahul Gandhi is a foreigner, he comes to India for a holiday. When he is done, goes back to his foreign home.”
Raut went on to say, “Maybe he`s (Rahul Gandhi) preparing to stay abroad, he had gone to hide his disappointment.”
The Shiv Sena leader said that the exit poll predictions have shattered both Rahul Gandhi, who was the chief election campaigner of Congress, and other prominent leaders of his party and that`s why they have gone into hiding.
“Results in May 16th will further disappoint Rahul Gandhi...this is the reason why he has gone away to a foreign land, ” Raut said.
Rahul Gandhi also faced similar criticism from the main opposition party BJP, which said his absence shows how much respect he holds for those holding highest constitutional posts.
“Rahul ji can`t take out time to attend PM`s farewell dinner, its unfortunate, especially when Sonia ji was hosting dinner,” BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Clearly, the absence of Rahul Gandhi at the farewell dinner hosted by Congress chief in honour of outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has raised political eyebrows.
Prime Minister’s Office yesterday said that Rahul had met Dr Singh on Saturday to thank him and told him that he won`t be in town on Wednesday.
There was speculation that Rahul was probably traveling abroad and would be back before counting of votes for the Lok Sabha polls begins on Friday.
When asked why Rahul had not attended the dinner, Union Minister Kamal Nath said that he was not aware of the reason. "I do not know why he did not attend."
Another minister RPN Singh when asked about questions raised over Rahul`s absence said, "It is unfortunate that politics is being done over it."
The function at 10, Janpath, Sonia`s residence, was held as a mark of gratitude by the party whose coalition government 81-year-old Dr Singh led for 10 long years.
Congress leader Ajay Maken said, "After three months of gruelling campaigning, Rahul ji is out of town for two days. (He) will be back on Thursday. Rahul ji had already met the honourable prime minister on May 10 to personally thank him for his services and contribution rendered to the nation."
Later, Union minister Rajeev Shukla said that Rahul Gandhi had met the PM on Saturday and thanked him for his contributions. The Congress vice president had also expressed regret that he would not be able to attend the farewell function, as he would be out of town, he added.
But Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, whose party National Conference is an ally of the Congress, felt that a statement should have been put out in advance if Rahul was not to attend the farewell dinner.
"If you knew he (Rahul) was not attending the dinner and he had explained his absence to the PM earlier, put out the statement before the news breaks," Omar tweeted.