Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has left for Oslo on an “invitation” from Norwegian government, removing himself from the country at a time when political temperature and opposition’s activities has picked up pace with a string of rallies featuring Congress lined up in the coming days.
“On the invitation of the Norwegian ministry of foreign affairs, I will be travelling to Oslo for a few days,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted, adding, “Looking forward to meeting and exchanging ideas with political and business leaders and research institutions.”
The visit has attracted the attention of Congress leaders and rivals alike for its timing as he is likely to miss two crucial political rallies.
While RJD chief Lalu Prasad is organising a joint opposition show in Patna on Sunday, the Congress vice-president may also miss the mega rally of opposition parties on September 1 in Gujarat. The show of strength in Valsad district is designed to kickstart the party’s campaign for assembly elections later in the year. Lalu’s “BJP Bhagao, Desh Bachao” (Banish BJP, Save country) rally has been pitched as the joint opposition’s challenge to Modi government and positioned as a big step towards cobbling a “grand alliance” for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Many view the timing of Rahul’s overseas visit as an excuse to stay away from Lalu’s rally. The Congress vicepresident has been reluctant to share the dais with the RJD chief owing to his conviction in a corruption case.
Rahul had publicly torn the ordinance passed by then UPA government which would have helped convicted politicians like Lalu Prasad to retain their membership of Parliament pending an appeal in the c