New Delhi: The absence of AICC vice- president Rahul Gandhi on the first day of the Budget session on Monday invited criticism from BJP which took a dig at Congress saying that it has been reduced to 44 seats in Lok Sabha due its leaders skipping the Parliament in the last one decade.
Gandhi has gone on a sabbatical "for a few weeks" to reflect upon recent events and the future of Congress.
Without taking Gandhi's name, BJP's youth wing chief and MP Anurag Thakur said Congress has been reduced to 44 seats in the Lok Sabha due to the absence of its leaders in the Parliament in the last one decade.
"They were missing in the last two Lok Sabhas as well. And this is why the Congress has come to 44 seats in Lok Sabha," he told reporters when asked about Gandhi's absence.
Thakur said that though it is for the Congress to decide on what it wants to do, he feels that it would have been better if all participated in the discussions in the two Houses of the Parliament.
Union Minister Kalraj Mishra also said that leaders from all parties should be present at the start of Budget session. He, however, added that there could have been some compulsion because of which Gandhi could not come.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily, when asked by reporters to comment on Gandhi's absence, said his party would continue to function as an effective and constructive opposition under the guidance of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.