Rahul’s hugplomacy after tearing into government surprises Modi

July 20, 2018
New Delhi: After tearing into the BJP-led government in his speech during the no confidence motion on Friday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi walked across to the ruling benches and hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, taking everyone in the Lok Sabha by surprise.

“I have not an iota of hatred or hard feelings against you. You hate me. You may call me Pappu, you can use a stream of expletives for me. But I don’t hate you or have even slightest of anger for you. I am the Congress,” Gandhi said at the end of his nearly 40-minute fiery speech.

Gandhi accused Modi of lying to the nation and making empty rhetoric “jumlas” to deceive the poor of the country. He also lashed out at the government and questioned Modi’s silence over women not feeling safe in the country and people from the minority communities being lynched.

Gandhi said the Prime Minister and BJP President Amit Shah were different type of politicians unlike those from the Congress.

“We are okay with winning and losing, staying in and out of power. But they cannot afford to lose power. They fear losing power. It is this fear that is turning into anger… But I will turn this anger into love because I am the Congress,” he said.

Resuming his speech after a brief adjournment, Gandhi said some opposition MPs congratulated him for speaking “really well’.

“I was surprised when your own members shook my hand and said, ‘you spoke really well’. This voice is also there within you. This voice doesn’t exist just within us. This Akali Dal leader (pointing towards Harsimrat Kaur) was looking at me and smiling. This feeling is there in the entire country. Our job is to connect these feelings.

“The entire opposition and a few people among you..together we are going to defeat the Prime Minister in the election.

“You may think there is anger, hatred in my heart for the prime minister. But, I want to say this from the bottom of my heart that I am very grateful to the Prime Minister, the BJP and the RSS. They made me understand the meaning of the Congress. They taught me the meaning of being a Hindustani.

“Hindustani means – one may say or do anything against you, one may tell a lie or abuse you or use a lathi against you, but you will show love towards them. Narendra Modi, the BJP and the RSS have taught me this. I would like thank you for this from the bottom of my heart.

“You taught me my religion, made me understand the meaning of Shivji, you made me understand the meaning of being a Hindu. I want to thank you for this.

“This is the history of our country. You may have hatred and anger towards me. The Congress and this very feeling has built this nation. Don’t forget this. This feeling is there within all of you, and I will bring it out from all of you. I will bring out that love that is there within you and I will turn all of you into the Congress.”

Gandhi then walked across to the ruling benches and hugged Modi who was taken by surprise. The Congress leader was heard telling the Prime Minister to get up and allow him to do “pranaam” to him.

The Prime Minister was taken aback at first and gestured as if asking Gandhi why he was there. But the Congress President bent over, threw his arms around Modi and hugged him tight.

A visibly nonplussed Modi hugged him back. After recovering from an apparent shock moment, the Prime Minister called Gandhi back towards him and the two shook their hands. He patted Gandhi on his back and exchanged a word or two with him, smilingly.

As the opposition members gave Gandhi a standing ovation and thumped their desks, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said such a conduct was against the rules of the House.

Shiromani Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal questioned Gandhi for saying she was smiling at him when he was speaking. “This is Parliament and not a ‘pappi jhappi’ area of Munna Bhai,” she said, mocking at him.

Speaker Mahajan said but “you were smiling” when Gandhi was speaking. There was a burst of laughter in the House.

By this time Gandhi had returned to his seat amid a loud cheer from his Congress colleagues. He was seen winking at Jyotiraditya Scindia, a Congress MP from Madhya Pradesh.

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