On the 20th of July, 2018, an incident transpired in the Lok Sabha which cemented Rahul Gandhi’s reputation as a callous, non-serious politician. The Congress President walked across the aisle towards the Prime Minister’s chair, hugged him without his consent and then returned to his seat. A short while later, he was caught winking at his comrades, apparently gloating over what he had just done.
The one person under whose watch the entire series of events unfolded was the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Sumitra Mahajan. She had even then admonished the Congress President for his juvenile conduct and asserted that his actions were improper and betrayed the decorum of the House.
In an interview with India Today, Sumitra Mahajan has revealed how she felt at the time about Rahul’s conduct. “For five seconds I was shocked. I didn’t know what was happening. What do I say to this? How should I control the House? Really, I was unable to understand,” she said.
“But when he returned to his seat, started speaking again and winked, I was very angry. I said this is not proper. Actually, the hugging was not proper either. But this was a step too much,” Mahajan further stated.
Rahul Gandhi’s antics had given many people plenty of cause for laughter. Social Media had erupted with jokes and memes following the ‘hug & wink’. Prime Minister Modi, too, had chimed in on Rahul’s antics.
PM Modi had said, “Pehli baar is sadan mein aane par hi mujhe pata chala ki gale milna aur gale padna mein kya antar hota hai.” [First time after coming to the Parliament, I got to know the difference between ‘gale lagna‘ (hugging) and ‘gale padna‘ (throw oneself on).] He further added, “Is sadan mein pehli baar aankhon ki gustakhiyan wala khel bhi hua (For the first time, this Parliament saw the ‘aankhon ki gustakhiyan’ scenes being played live too).”
Despite the mockery and ridicule, winking had become a regular feature of Rahul Gandhi’s public appearances for quite some time after the event.