Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Amid continued questioning of Rahul Gandhi`s leadership qualities by several party leaders, the Congress vice president was on Wednesday found sleeping in Parliament, oblivious to speeches or camera lights shining on him.
A picture of him with his head bowing on right while his eyes were seemingly shut has gone viral on social media accompanied by carping comments.
The footage from Lok Sabha TV showed the Member of Parliament from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh with his eyes closed at around 12:33 pm, when the Congress member in front of him was speaking.
Taking a potshot at Rahul Gandhi, senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain tweeted:
Rahul Gandhi was seen sleeping in Parliament during a debate on price rise. That's what the Congress was doing during their 10 yr rule.
— Shahnawaz Hussain (@ShahnawazBJP) July 9, 2014
Countering this, Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said that a "trivial and frivolous issue" is being unnecessarily highlighted.
"First of all this is not a controversy. This is very trivial and frivolous issue which is being unnecessarily highlighted. In the last 14 years during my Parliament career, I have seen lot many people taking a nap or sleeping or dozing off in Parliament of BJP, Shahnawaz Hussain`s own party."
"Sometimes people shut their eyes and listen to the speech very patiently. This must be the case with Rahul Gandhi as well. Atal Bihari Vajpayee always used to shut his eyes to listen to debates. What does it mean?"
"Lot many BJP ministers are still sleeping or taking a nap which they call a `catnap`. Rahul Gandhi must be giving a patient hearing. Unnecessarily you are trying to blow this issue out of proportion," Shukla said.
"It is not true. I totally and categorically deny all aspersions," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, lamenting that the matter has been sensationalised and wondered whether it behoves to raise such issues.
He said that for the last seven weeks the government has played "petty and vindictive" politics.
Meanwhile, NCP too came to the defence of the Congress vice president and said closing one`s eyes does not mean sleeping.
"Many people in Parliament close their eyes. It does not mean they are sleeping," senior NCP leader Praful Patel said.
A few days ago, Congress` general secretary Digvijay Singh triggered a debate on the ability of Rahul Gandhi to lead his party by saying the 44-year-old Gandhi scion lacks the temperament to rule.
In an interview to a Goa television news channel, Singh, who is party in-charge of Goa and often touted as Gandhi`s political guru, had said Gandhi should have taken up the responsibility of leading the Congress in the Lok Sabha and taking on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
"He is by temperament not a ruling person. He is by temperament someone who wants to fight injustice," he had said.
Digvijay Singh`s statement had come at a time when Gandhi had been under attack from several state units for failing to add any punch to the Congress`s election campaign, leading to its worst poll debacle.
The Congress won only 44 seats in the General Elections, 10 less than the number required to stake its claim to the post of Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.