Rahul Gandhi, a leader of India’s Congress party, has concluded a tour of the US in which he visited three cities, held meetings with American lawmakers and interacted with Indian American communities. Before he began the tour, Gandhi was delayed for two hours at an airport while waiting for immigration clearance.
During this time, he stood in line with other passengers and took selfies. When asked why he was waiting in line, Gandhi replied “I am a common man. I like it. I am no longer an MP.”
Gandhi’s visit has been arranged by the Indian Overseas Congress, with the aim of establishing connections and a conversation between Gandhi and American individuals, institutions, and media, including the growing Indian diaspora. “The purpose of his (Gandhi’s) trip is to connect, interact and begin a new conversation with various individuals, institutions and media, including the Indian diaspora…to promote the shared values and vision of the real democracy with a focus on freedom, inclusion, sustainability, justice, peace and opportunities world over,” said Sam Pitroda, the chairperson of the Indian Overseas Congress.
Gandhi had a full week of events planned across the US, including speaking engagements at Stanford University, meetings with lawmakers and think tanks in Washington DC, and a public gathering in New York. He will also engage with Wall Street executives and university students during the tour.
Gandhi’s disqualification as a Member of Parliament in March due to his conviction and two-year sentence in a defamation case over a Modi surname remark has not disrupted his political activities. His visit to the US aims to build links between the political and social spheres of India and the US.
The reason for Gandhi’s visit is to promote shared values and a vision of “real democracy”, according to Sam Pitroda. Pitroda stated, “the purpose of his trip is to connect, interact and begin a new conversation with various individuals, institutions, and media, including the Indian diaspora that is growing in numbers in the United States and abroad to promote the shared values and vision of the real democracy with a focus on freedom, inclusion, sustainability, justice, peace, and opportunities world over.”
Furthermore, Rahul Gandhi received a new ordinary passport on Sunday, two days after a local court granted its no objection to the issuance of the same. The passport office assured Gandhi in the morning that the passport would be issued to him on Sunday, and he got it in the afternoon. Gandhi had applied for an ordinary passport after surrendering the old diplomatic passport issued to him when he was a member of parliament.
Gandhi’s visit to the US comes just a week after the Congress Party recorded a thumping majority in Karnataka. During this significant victory, the Congress party managed to form a government in collaboration with the Janata Dal-Secular.
This electoral win in Karnataka has been hailed as an essential step in boosting the Congress parties’ morale, given their recent defeat in the national assembly elections in 2014.
Rahul Gandhi’s visit to the US will be closely watched by many political analysts to assess his global standing, particularly following his assumed title of heir to the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. His trip may also signal his intent to take a more assertive role in politics, including his aspirations for the national leadership. His official Instagram account shared photos of him interacting with people and visiting places in California, ahead of his engagements.