Return of India's Gandhi scion sparks media frenzy

Reporters set up camp outside the house to try to catch a glimpse of the 44-year-old

Afp April 16, 2015

NEW DELHI: India's news channels went into overdrive on Thursday on news beleaguered opposition leader Rahul Gandhi had returned from a two-month break from politics after a series of embarrassing electoral defeats.

Television footage showed a convoy of black SUVs driving to Rahul's house in the exclusive leafy heart of New Delhi, purportedly carrying the scion of the Gandhi family dynasty.

Reporters set up camp outside the house to try to catch a glimpse of the 44-year-old, while #RahulReturns was trending on Twitter.

CNN-IBN reported Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all prime ministers, returned from a sojourn in Myanmar where he was staying at a "famous meditation retreat".

Gandhi's decision in February to go on a sabbatical on the same day that India's budget session of parliament started sparked widespread criticism as well as speculation about his future.

According to Congress Party officials, Gandhi took a break to "reflect" on the future course of the party which has suffered a string of defeats since its humiliating loss in last year's national polls.

Gandhi has been heavily criticised for his lacklustre leadership as number two in Congress.

But the party has dismissed speculation that he would quit politics altogether or take over from his mother as Congress president.

Veteran Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry said Gandhi would address a rally of hundreds of farmers in Delhi on Sunday against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reform of land purchasing rules.

"It is natural for cadres to feel energised at his return as he is our leader," Mistry told AFP.

Rahul has the reputation of a reluctant leader who maintains a low profile in and outside parliament, where he is an MP.

His refusal of the political spotlight has frustrated colleagues, but few in the party have been willing to criticise him publicly.


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