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Sorry Rahul Gandhi, the various claims about your whereabouts don’t add up

For someone who is always thrust upon us by the media whenever he is at home, Rahul Gandhi becomes untraceable to the Indian media when he is abroad. Mind you this is the same media that managed to get Lalit Modi into their UK newsroom when he was wanted at least on paper by Indian officials. Oh let’s not forget how media also managed to get in touch with Dawood’s wife which even our Intelligence officials didn’t think of.

Unlike last time when Mr. Gandhi went AWOL for 56 or so days and media ran a circus on where he could be, relying on gossip, Social media photos, and basically whatever they heard through the grapevine, this time Rahul’s location was put to rest courtesy tweets from Rahul’s office and Milind Deora who was accompanying him. All news channels ran with tweets and that was the end of that.

Except that it was not. In fact we are not even sure what conference or seminar or private event was it that Rahul Gandhi attended.  Though we can confirm the photographs of Rahul Gandhi with Iceland president and David Miliband are real the verification of whether they all attended the conference is unclear.

But First onto the Conference attended by Rahul Gandhi

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Congress had been insisting that Rahul Gandhi was going to Aspen ,Colorado  to attend “Weekend with Charlie Rose” conference. However this conference seems to shrouded in much mystery even to Aspen residents themselves. Two local Aspen News stories do mention a conference of the same name and it being a private event, but one of these reports borrows from an Indian report in Economic Times, which again talks reports the Congress’s official position here in India. An Indian American news organization however claims that their investigation reveals that the ‘Aspen Ideas Festival‘ which is the official name of the conference had long been over and chances of Rahul Gandhi attending any conference are slim.

Further adding to the mystery pot-boiler was the miscommunication or supposedly lack of communication between Congress workers in India and Overseas. According to Indian National Overseas Congress (INOC) President Juned Qazi (INOC) President Juned Qazi “Yes it can be said that Rahul Gandhi didn’t attend any such programme, though he was in Aspen. Weekend with Charlie Rose conference is over & I have no information that Rahul attended it. His name also wasn’t mentioned in the speakers’ list”. This apparent miscommunication can also be corroborated with version given by one  George Abraham, chairman of a faction of the Indian National Overseas Congress, and based in New York, in an interview to The American Bazaar who said that he had “not been notified” of any visit by Rahul Gandhi to the United States.

From the tweets by Rahul Gandhi’s office and Milind Deora it seemed as if the conference was not the one with Charlie Rose but the “New Media & International Affairs Conference in CO, USA”. In fact Mr. Deora’s tweet carried pictures of Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and former UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Now since this conference was an international one and attended by the President of a country as well as former diplomat of another country there was bound to have been some news about this conference. But surprise surprise there is no mention of any conference even in any of the local newspapers despite it being an international one. In fact there are no such media conferences on time of tweet of Rahul Gandhi or on the day even accounting for time difference between India and US.

Even one related with media tech is only scheduled to take place on 30/9/2015 as part of an expo which begins only on noon of the day of Mr. Gandhi’s attended conference.

So it seems that Rahul Gandhi may have attended an unknown conference in an unknown place since whatever has been provided as proof doesn’t seem to add up.

But there are other variables that are out of place and these are the persons in the photograph with Rahul Gandhi at this “conference”

First is David Miliband. He was present at UN Sustainable Goals Summit 2015 held between 25-27 September 2015 in New York as the president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee which runs relief operations in many countries. He spoke at UNICEF and  at UN Summit  in between 24 to 27 th and as per his own tweet he is to speak at the Social Good Summit which is held between 27-28 September in New York and he will also be testifying before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 29 September. Just to be clear, the Flight time between Aspen and New York is at least 6 hrs and between Denver and New York is at least 4 hrs. Both these places are in Colorado or CO. So factoring in the distance between New York and 2 places in Colorado and the fact that David Miliband’s schedule is packed with important summits and hearings it seems a bit strange that he had gone for a supposedly international conference without even tweeting about it.

Same is the case with  Iceland President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson. Last year when the President traveled to the US it was reported in an Icelandic news magazine about his attending various debates and conferences including one organized by Charlie Rose in Aspen.

Even other international conferences where the President attended had at least a website or some other media tool to announce the event. Yet somehow an “international” conference attended by President of a country , a diplomat of another country and by a former Minister and a Vice-President of a party of a 3rd country had no information that could be found to prove it had taken place.

The photographs are real but given that Miliband could not have been Colorado it may have been in New York. But since Iceland’s Prime Minister also spoke at the UN summit , it is highly unlikely that the Icelandic President would also be there for a conference in the same city in which case he would have been the one to speak at UN summit, but it cannot be ruled out. But if he was indeed in New York then Rahul Gandhi would have been spotted by  one of the many India media covering the summit. So Mr. Deora’s proof of Rahul Gandhi’s attendance at a Colorado conference during Mr. Gandhi’s trip to US doesn’t hold water.

So Rahul Gandhi may have attended an event that the Congress in India or in US are not sure of. What the conference was about also differs in tweets between Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Deora . Mr. Deora’s tweet raises more questions in particular about David Miliband having attended same conference. And we have a media that seems to have taken the 2 tweets as court judgement and doesn’t seem to pursue further. With no-one willing to dig deeper, the truth may never be crystal clear.

(The post originally appeared here)

-Venkat G

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