28 Dec 2020: Rahul Gandhi faces criticism over absence during Congress Foundation Day
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been facing criticism by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for his absence at the party's Foundation Day event.
Notably, Gandhi skipped the 136th Foundation Day event in Delhi along with his mother and interim party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Gandhi is abroad on a personal visit, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said on Sunday.
Here are more details.
Details: 'Rahul Gandhi has disappeared,' tweets Madhya Pradesh CM
Surjewala had said, "Rahul Gandhi has left for abroad for a short personal visit and will be away for a few days."
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tweeted in Hindi, "Congress here is celebrating its 136th Foundation Day and Rahul Gandhi has disappeared."
Gandhi's sister and party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attended the event and side-stepped questions about his absence.
Fact: 'If he's absent, there must be valid reason'
Senior party leader AK Antony hoisted the party flag to mark the event. When asked about Gandhi's absence, party leader Salman Khurshid told reporters, "There could have been 101 reasons for his absence...If he took a call it must be for a valid reason."
Trip: 'Rahul Gandhi went to see grandmother'
Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said on Monday, "Rahul Gandhi has gone to see his grandmother. Is it wrong? They are targeting Rahul Gandhi because they want to target only one leader."
Earlier on Sunday, the news agency PTI had reported citing sources that Gandhi had departed for Milan in Italy aboard a Qatar Airways flight in the morning.
Fact: Today, we reiterate pledge of truth, equality: Gandhi
Meanwhile, Gandhi tweeted a video to mark the party's Foundation Day. He wrote, "The Congress has been committed from the beginning to raise the voice of the nation. Today, on the Foundation Day of the Congress, we reiterate our pledge of truth and equality."
Fact: You can view the tweet here
Recent news: Foreign visit comes amid tensions within party
Gandhi's absence from the event comes at a time when the party's leadership has been facing criticism internally.
Over a week ago, the party leadership had held a meeting with rebel leaders who have called for sweeping organizational changes.
The party has been losing support since its loss in last year's general elections, which prompted Gandhi to resign as chief.
Fact: Will Gandhi return as Congress chief?
After the meeting, Gandhi had said that he is "ready to work for the party as all desire," which led to speculation that he may return as party chief. However, sources told NDTV that he is adamant to not serve as the party chief.