“You may call me Pappu, but I don’t hate you,” Rahul Gandhi said, looking directly at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then walking across to embrace him. It may not have been an “earthquake” but the Congress president’s jaw-dropping gesture during the no-confidence motion debate in parliament came close to it, felt many lawmakers.
The Congress president had been ridiculed for saying in a past session that if he was allowed to speak in the house, there would be an “earthquake”.
It’s going to be one of those days. We had the hug & now the wink seems to have stolen a march on the hug. I’m almost afraid to ask what’s next.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) July 20, 2018
After a speech that was disrupted multiple times, and in which he made multiple allegations, Congress president Rahul Gandhi walked across and hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The hug came after Gandhi said that no matter what the PM and BJP said about him, he would never hate them.
Rahul Gandhi should be ashamed, he can't target our ministers without any proof. He was doing drama in the house and hugging Modi ji. I think his next step will be Bollywood. We will have to send him there: Kirron Kher, BJP MP#NoCofidenceMotion pic.twitter.com/nKN1ghaB0m
— ANI (@ANI) July 20, 2018
Earlier, in his sharpest attack on the Prime Minister on subjects ranging from the Rafale deal to GST (Goods and Services Tax), demonetisation and foreign policy, Rahul Gandhi had said repeatedly: “You can’t look me in the eye.” The PM, sitting directly across, smiled. Then came the twist.
“You can abuse me, you can call me Pappu, but I don’t have a speck of hatred against you. I will take out this hatred out of you and turn it into love. I am the Congress,” said Mr Gandhi. He quickly left his seat and walked over to the prime minister, who was seen making a questioning gesture with his hand.
— Nupur Sharma (@NupurSharmaBJP) July 20, 2018
— THE SKIN DOCTOR (@theskindoctor13) July 20, 2018
The PM looked stumped as Mr Gandhi leaned in and enveloped the prime minister in a bear hug. As the Congress chief started walking away, the PM recovered and grabbed his sleeve. He was seen saying something into Mr Gandhi’s ear and patting him on his back.
Back in his seat, the 47-year-old was seen winking at fellow Congress MPs. “Score” — many Congress lawmakers appeared to say without words.
Sonia Gandhi told she was “very happy” with son Rahul’s performance and “I am happy the media is changing too.”
Lawmakers across the house cheered and thumped their desks wildly. Opposition members gave Mr Gandhi a standing ovation.
— Karan Sharma (@IKaransharma27) July 20, 2018
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) July 20, 2018
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who was seen grinning throughout the Rahul Gandhi-PM Modi Instagram moment, said “such conduct is against the rules of the house.”
Along with some Congress MPs, even ruling party members were seen on their feet. One exception was minister Harsimrat Kaur of the Akali Dal, who said: “This is a house, not for Munnabhai’s pappi jhappi.”
The ruling BJP was a tad more sporting as it tweeted: “We cannot thank you enough for the entertainment!”
— Parthsarthi Sharma 🇮🇳 (@pss1987) July 20, 2018