New Delhi Correspondent
India’s top opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday gave a stunning bear hug to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of parliament, after mounting a no-hold-bar attack on him alleging corruption in the purchase of fighter jets from France.
After the scathing criticism of Modi on several issues including the Rafale fighter jet deal during the debate on the opposition-sponsored no-trust motion, Rahul, President of Congress party, walked across the well of the Lok Sabha to Modi and hugged him, a gesture which took all lawmakers by surprise.
Modi also appeared at first taken aback by Rahul’s gesture and did not stand up to hug him but recovered quickly and called Gandhi back and patted him on the back with a smile. He also said a few words to Rahul, which were inaudible. BJP lawmakers sitting just behind Modi watched Rahul’s hug with gaping mouths.
Rahul’s unexpected gesture, which quickly became a favoured video clip for television channels and went viral on the social media.
“This is what it means to be a Hindu,” Rahul said after returning to his seat amid applause from Congress lawmakers, including his mother Sonia Gandhi and other leaders present who heartily thumped their desks.
It was perhaps for the first time in India’s parliamentary history that a top opposition leader hugged a Prime Minister on the floor of parliament.
But a lady lawmaker of Shiromani Akali Dal Harsimraat Kaur Badal, an ally of Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party, and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not like Rahul’g gesture. While Harsimrat termed it as a “dramabaazi”, the Speaker told Rahul that there are certain norms and rules of behaviour to be observed inside parliament.
But after his stunning bear hug to Modi, Rahul went back to his seat in the opposition benches and winked at his party colleagues. In the din that followed the hug, Rahul was seen turning to one of his cheering colleagues and winking. Several TV channels played both the hug and the wink. Ends