After the Bharatiya Janata Party criticised Rahul Gandhi for his visit abroad, the Congress on Monday said he has gone to meet an ailing relative and his grandmother and is not on a holiday.
Asked about Rahul Gandhi's absence from the party's foundation day function at the All India Congress Committee headquarters, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala came out in defence of Gandhi, saying he is currently not the party chief and has performed all the duties entrusted to him by the organisation.
The former party chief left for Italy on Sunday afternoon, a day ahead of the party's 136th foundation day, prompting many BJP leaders to take a swipe at him and the Congress.
'Rahul Gandhi's holiday in India has ended and he has gone back to Italy,' Union minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh had tweeted.
Surjewala said the BJP should not have any objection to Gandhi visiting an ailing relative.
"Rahul Gandhi has gone out on a short personal visit to meet up with an ailing relative, who is seriously sick. He has not gone out on a holiday.
"He also meets up with his maternal grandmother this time of the year, every year. I don't think the BJP should have objections to him visiting an ailing relative," he told reporters.
He said today the issue is not about Rahul Gandhi but of farmers protesting in the cold, and alleged that the prime minister or his ministers do not have time to meet them.
"Why don't the ministers of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the prime minister of the country take care of the farmers? Instead of abusing the opposition, why don't they pay attention to running the country?
"Why doesn't the prime minister and minister go 20 kilometers and talk to the farmers? Why is the prime minister so arrogant that he is not ready to talk to farmers," he asked.