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Day of unaccompanied ride

Rahul Gandhi drives out of his Tughlaq Lane residence with Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi, Jan. 10: Sonia Gandhi appears to have devised an ingenious way of handing over the Congress reins to Rahul Gandhi by fully withdrawing from the political scene. Her absence tomorrow will mark the first national convention to be presided over by Rahul.

The message has already filtered down to the grassroots that Rahul is the party's functional head and Sonia the ceremonial one. Although this arrangement is slated to change after the Assembly elections with Rahul set to be formally declared Congress president, tomorrow's Jan Vedna Sammelan will be the harbinger of the transition of power.

The party, however, explained the rationale behind Rahul presiding over the convention by saying he had led the Congress's demonetisation campaign against the government.

Party spokesperson Shaktisinh Gohil said: "Rahul was in the forefront of the campaign. He was with the farmers of Uttar Pradesh for a month. Then he stood by the people in the times of miseries caused by the Prime Minister's decision."

Rahul, who again drew ridicule by going on a foreign tour ahead of the elections in five states, was this morning seen driving Sonia home. Since he is rarely spotted at the wheel on Delhi roads, some saw in it an easy ploy to grab attention after his 10-day absence from the country.

The Congress has set the tone for the convention by declaring that all the stated objectives of demonetisation had failed and by panning Prime Minister Narendra Modi for acting like the brand ambassador of companies promoting digital transactions.

Gohil said: "If Modi is truly interested in fighting corruption, let him order an inquiry into the deposits of the Ahmedabad cooperative bank headed by Amit Shah...."

The Congress recalled that Modi had said the country would emerge pure as gold after 50 days of demonetisation and he should be called to any " chauraha" for punishment if problems persisted. The party has now tried to corner Modi through this couplet: "Desh khara do-rahe par, miloge kis chaurahe par (The nation is standing at crossroads, tell us at which square should we meet)."


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