New Delhi: Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi created a flutter in India’s parliament on Friday, giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi a surprise hug during a heated debate and said he had nothing but love for his bitter political foe.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party has repeatedly targeted Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, as a “failed dynast” out of touch with ordinary people and ill-suited for public life.
But Gandhi, who is girding up for national elections next year, said his politics were above hate and that he bore no personal rancour towards Modi who has also targeted the young leader in the past.
Soon after closing a speech tearing into Modi’s performance during his four years in office, Gandhi strode across the floor and put his arms awkwardly around the seated prime minister in a rare gesture that caught Modi unawares.
“You have anger against me, you can call me names, you can abuse me, 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,” Gandhi said as lawmakers thumped their desks and others looked on.
Modi, startled by Gandhi’s gesture, froze in his seat in an image that was repeatedly played on television screens across the country and went viral on social media. Modi later called back Gandhi to his seat and shook hands, smiling.
Earlier Telugu Desam Party MP Galla Jayadev, who initiated the debate on the no-trust motion in the Lok Sabha on Friday, mentioned Telugu blockbuster ‘Bharat Ane Nenu’ of his brother-in-law and popular actor Mahesh Babu.
The industrialist-politician kicked off the debate with the mention of the movie to stress the point before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government that “promises should be kept”.
“The latest Telugu blockbuster ‘Bharat Ane Nenu’, which means ‘I, Bharat,’ is a story about an young NRI who returns to India after his father, who is a chief minister, dies suddenly.
“Bharat enters politics reluctantly and becomes a young, dynamic and beloved chief minister,” said the Guntur MP.
“The recurring theme in this movie is about trust and his mother’s advice Bharat keeps recalling. A promise is a promise. If a man makes a promise and does not keep it, he does not have the right to call himself a man.
“It was a blockbuster because the general mood of people reflects well in this film. People are tired of empty assurances and unfulfilled commitments,” he said.
Jayadev, whose family owns Amara Raja Group, is the son-in-law of veteran Telugu actor Krishna, father of Mahesh Babu.
One of the wealthiest MPs, Jayadev had declared assets of Rs6.83 billion ahead of the 2014 elections.
His mention of Mahesh Babu’s movie triggered varied reactions on social media. Some remarked that he is trying to promote his brother-in-law’s movie while others commented that this goes on to show how politics and films are deeply intertwined, especially in Andhra Pradesh.