*NEW DELHI: You may have seen countless moments of mud-slinging in politics, but the one in the Indian Assembly today could set a new precedent of respect. It happened when opposition figure Rahul Gandhi approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the parliament session and hugged him affectionately.*
“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 session touched many hearts in and outside the assembly.
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”.
“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.
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 NDTV she was “very happy” with son Rahul’s performance and “I am happy the media is changing too.”