New Delhi, Feb. 2: After a night in a Dalits home, Rahul Gandhi is set to rise in the land of the rising sun.
The young MP is tonight flying to Tokyo on a mission of parliamentarians to market India in Japan as a friend, a strategic ally, a trade partner and a significant player in the common Asian market.
Thats how his sponsor, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), puts it.
Rahul, who last month spent a night in a Dalits house in an Uttar Pradesh village, is part of a five-member delegation of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members expected to interact with Japans former Prime Ministers, sitting lawmakers, industry leaders and opinion-makers during the four-day trip.
The others on the team are Omar Abdullah, Sachin Pilot, Madhu Goud Yaskhi and Prema Cariappa. National Conference leader Omar, the lone non-Congress representative in the team, is 38 but — like Rahul, Madhu and Sachin — qualifies as a member of the babalog brigade.
Cariappa, a Rajya Sabha member, is the only senior person around to keep a watchful eye on the babas, a Congress source joked.
We will know first-hand what is going on between the two countries. The Congress is ruling the country and this visit will definitely help joint ventures, Cariappa said.
But thats not exactly how party sources projected the trip. They seemed keen on underplaying the CIIs role and more intent on emphasising the meetings Rahul and the others will have with Japans politicians and the people.
Its about people-to-people contact, said a source and added that it would be a great learning experience.
Its not a junket because every one of them can afford to travel abroad on their own and whenever they want. They have a tight schedule and will be kept on their toes all the time, the source said.
The mission, an annual feature on the industry bodys calendar of events, is organised jointly with Japans Sasakawa Peace Foundation to forge, among other things, human networks among Japanese and Indian parliamentarians.