A video of Rahul Gandhi went viral on social media on Tuesday triggering a row, with the Bharatiya Janata Party alleging he was at a 'nightclub' when his party is 'exploding', evoking a sharp response from the Congress which said he was in Nepal to attend the marriage of a journalist friend, and that is 'not a crime'.
As the video went viral on social media, some, including politicians, alleged that Gandhi was seen with a Chinese national.
The BJP's social media department head Amit Malviya and Union minister Giriraj Singh also tweeted the video and hit out at the former Congress chief.
'Rahul Gandhi was at a nightclub when Mumbai (in 2008) was under seize (sic). He is at a nightclub at a time when his party is exploding. He is consistent. Interestingly, soon after the Congress refused to outsource their presidency, hit jobs have begun on their prime ministerial candidate...,' Malviya said in the tweet.
'Colourful programme,' BJP leader and Union minister Singh said in a tweet in Hindi while sharing the video.
Congress general secretary and chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hit back, saying Gandhi was in Nepal for a private wedding function and had not gone there uninvited.
He also said it is not a crime to attend a wedding of a friend or a family member.
'Rahul Gandhi has not gone as an uninvited guest like Prime Minister Narendra Modi had gone to Pakistan to celebrate the birthday and cut cakes for the then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Rahul Gandhi has gone to a friendly country Nepal to participate in a private marriage function of a friend. By chance, the friend also happens to be a journalist,' the Congress leader said.
Surjewala also hit out at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), saying it is not a crime to attend weddings of family members and friends as it 'is part of our culture, unlike the RSS'.
"Last I checked, having a family in this country and having friends, attending marriage and engagement ceremonies is a matter of our culture and civilisation. It has still not become a crime in this country to be married, to be friends with someone or to attend their marriage celebration. Maybe after today, Prime Minister Modi or the BJP may decide that it is illegal to attend a marriage. They may say it is a crime to have friends or participate in family functions," he said.
"But, do let me know so that we all change our status and habits and civilisational practices of attending marriages of friends, as also family members," Surjewala said.
Some, including BJP spokesperson Sanju Verma alleged that Gandhi was with a Chinese woman, while Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party leader V Vijayasai Reddy alleged that the Congress leader was seen with Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanki.
'Video of Rahul Gandhi partying in a Nepal night club with Chinese diplomats is disturbing as China's honey traps are rising. Hou Yanqi, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, also spotted with him. Congress unnecessarily questions Narendra Modi Ji's Europe trip while its own leader does this!' Reddy tweeted.
This evoked a sharp response from Congress leader Manickam Tagore, who hit back saying, 'Corrupt Vijayasai Reddy please see the truth. We know that your problem is the corruption cases against Jagan Reddy for that you have to keep sahib happy.'
'But don't forget the truth. Mr Gandhi went to attend the wedding of the Nepal Ambassador's daughter. What's wrong in attending it?' he asked.
Verma also tweeted, 'Riots in Congress ruled Karauli, Alwar and Jodhpur in Rajasthan. But look at the cavalier attitude of Rahul Gandhi who is busy partying in Nepal, with an ambiguous Chinese lady. Forget ever being the PM, this inept dynast may not even retain his LS seat in 2024.'
She also used the hashtag 'RahulPartyVideo'.
Surjewala hit back saying, 'Everyone with mongolian features beyond West Bengal upto Japan is a Chinese and everyone from South India is a Madrasi. They need to come out of this preducial and racist mindset. You don't vet the guest list in a marriage when you are yourself invited.'
He said when one is attending the wedding of a daughter of a former ambassador, one does not vet the guest list of who are invited.
"When the PM goes to marriages of various people, does he vet the guest list on who they can or cannot invite," Surjewala asked.
"Before raising this bogus Chinese bogey, BJP should explain why they have increased trade with China to over $125 billion in 2021 even when China has occupied our territory," said Surjewala.
Shehzad Poonawala, another BJP spokesperson tweeted, 'PM Modi visited Pashupatinath in Nepal. Rahul visits a pub in Nepal.'
He said Gandhi preferred pub to people and prayers.
'That's ok.. he can have his choices. Ram Sanskar vs Rome Sanskar,' Poonawala said.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra came out in support of Gandhi and slammed the BJP over the issue.
'How on earth is it anybody's business whether Rahul Gandhi or anybody else is in a nightclub or at a wedding in private time? Sick BJP trolls in charge should stick to doing what they do best--leading double lives with beer in teapots,' she tweeted.
Gandhi arrived in Nepal on Monday on a five-day private visit.
According to The Kathmandu Post newspaper, the Congress leader is in the country's capital to attend the wedding of his Nepali friend Sumnima Udas.
'We had extended an invitation to Gandhi to attend the wedding of my daughter,' said Bhim Udas, Sumnima's father who also served as Nepal's Ambassador to Myanmar.
Sumnima, a former CNN correspondent, is getting married to Nima Martin Sherpa, the report had said.
The marriage function was planned for Tuesday and a reception will be held on May 5 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bauddha, Bhim said.