NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi turned 47 today
Mr Gandhi flew to Italy last week to meet his maternal grandmother
After he tweeted about the trip, BJP criticized him
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted birthday greetings to political rival Rahul Gandhi this morning. “I pray for his long and healthy life,” the PM wrote, tagging Mr Gandhi’s official account.
Mr Gandhi, who turned 47 today, flew to Italy last week, declaring that he wanted to spend some time with his 93-year-old grandmother.
His timing drew criticism – he exited the country at a time of top-gear political activity which includes the naming of the new President of India. Mr Gandhi’s mother, Sonia Gandhi, who is Congress chief, has been coordinating the opposition’s strategy which is centered on naming a common candidate if the government’s choice is not deemed satisfactory.
PM Modi is meeting today with top BJP leaders including party chief Amit Shah; sources say the ruling coalition could name its candidate today.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s term expires on July 24. If an election is necessary, voting will be held on July 17 and the results will be declared on July 20.
The BJP has tasked three ministers- Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh -with accruing feedback from its allies and opposition parties on who would be an acceptable candidate.
Mrs Gandhi met with the BJP’s representatives on Friday. So did Left leader Sitaram Yechury.
Mr Gandhi’s absence has been used by some critics to bolster their suggestion that he is not a serious politician. The BJP, however, sardonically said it was not surprised by his decision to be MIA.
“He visits India in between vacations,” said party leader GVL Narasimha Rao last week.