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Jesus College of Cambridge University confirms exclusively to OpIndia: Rahul Gandhi had not received official invite – it was a paid event. Here’s the proof

"The event was an external, commercial booking. The College had no involvement in the organisation or financing of the event," confirmed the spokesperson of Jesus College of University of Cambridge

On 21st February this year, veteran Congress leader Jairam Ramesh informed that the ambitious foot pilgrimage of Rahul Gandhi, Bharat Nyay Jodo Yatra, would be stopped on account of the Congress scion’s visit to the United Kingdom.

He claimed that Rahul Gandhi was invited by the University of Cambridge and that the Congress scion would deliver two lectures at the prestigious institute.

“February 26th to March 1st will be break days to enable Rahul Gandhi to fulfil his long-standing commitment to deliver two special lectures at his alma mater Cambridge University (UK) on February 27th and February 28th and also to enable him to attend other important meetings in New Delhi,” Jairam Ramesh had claimed.

On Tuesday (27th February), entrepreneur Venkata “Serish” Gandikota posted an image of Rahul Gandhi walking alongside the Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress, Sam Pitroda, and Congres-friendly ‘journalist’ Shruti Kapila.

He tweeted (archive), “Rahul Gandhi and Sam Pitroda sighting – great to see them without all the security people and walking casually in Cambridge today.”

Two days later on Thursday (29th February), Congress loyalist Shantanu tweeted a picture of Rahul Gandhi standing in front of a podium and wrote, “First picture of Rahul Gandhi ji from his official visit to Cambridge University.”

He further claimed, “New Professor in town.” The archived version of the tweet can be accessed here.

Screengrab of the tweet by Shantanu

Through his tweet, Congress loyalist Shantanu suggested that Rahul Gandhi was indeed ‘invited’ to speak at the University of Cambridge.

The mystery surrounding Rahul Gandhi’s UK visit

Rahul Gandhi is no stranger to mysterious visits to foreign countries. Such trips are often scheduled by the Congress scion when the party needs him the most.

It thus comes as no surprise that he took a break from his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ to deliver ‘special lectures’ at the University of Cambridge.

However, the claim of being ‘invited’ by the esteemed varsity seemed hard to digest. For instance, the last time the university posted a tweet mentioning Rahul Gandhi was way back in May 2022.

Similarly, the Judge School of Business of the University of Cambridge posted about an event featuring Rahul Gandhi in February 2023.

However, this time, there was no update about him on the X (formerly Twitter) handle of the University of Cambridge or its associate colleges. OpIndia was able to find talks by other guests but not Congress scion Rahul Gandhi.

No evidence of any recent lecture by Rahul Gandhi at the University of Cambridge

The location of the purported lecture

On closely analysing the image of Rahul Gandhi shared by Congress loyalist Shantanu on X (formerly Twitter), social media users determined that the purported ‘special lecture’ took place at the Jesus College of the University of Cambridge.

While many mistook the place for the ‘cafeteria’ of the college, OpIndia was able to find that Rahul Gandhi ‘spoke’ at the Elena Hall (conference room) of the Jesus College. A 360-degree tour of the facility was also available on the website.

Image of Elena Hall as found on the website of the Jesus College

Conference hall available for hire for commercial purposes

Just as the ‘University of Cambridge’ and ‘Judge School of Business’ tweeted about Rahul Gandhi in May 2022 and February 2023 respectively, we expected a similar post from the official X (formerly Twitter) handle of Jesus College.

However, it returned ‘no results’ on searching with the keyword ‘Rahul Gandhi.’

Screengrab of the Twitter query

On further investigating the matter, we found that the Jesus College administration allows commercial activities in the form of presentations, meetings, events and even group dining at its large conference halls, breakout spaces and grounds.

It implies that anyone can book not just a small meeting room at the Jesus College of the University of Cambridge but multiple venues with en-suite accommodation.

Indian Overseas Congress shares old images

With growing suspense around Rahul Gandhi’s yet another mysterious foreign visit, the Indian Overseas Congress took it upon itself to share old images and mislead the public into believing that the Congress MP got a grand welcome at the University of Cambridge.

In a tweet on Friday (1st March), the official handle of the ‘Indian Overseas Congress’, wrote, “Indian National Congress MP Rahul Gandhi ji at Cambridge University in conversation with Shruti Kapila.”

“It is indeed a moment of pride that an Indian leader has been invited to address and interact with the students in Cambridge University. We have the father of the Telecom revolution in India Sam Pitroda ji with Rahul Ji,” it further claimed.

Screengrab of the tweet by Indian Overseas Congress

The ‘Indian Overseas Congress’ shrewdly attempted to give the impression that Rahul Gandhi was recently invited by the University of Cambridge.

In order to substantiate its dubious claims, the X (formerly Twitter) handle posted images from May 2022 featuring Rahul Gandhi, Congress-friendly ‘journalist’ Shruti Kapila and Sam Pitroda.

The Indian Overseas Congress attached an image that read ‘India at 75’, clearly highlighting that the year in which the picture was clicked happened to be 2022.

OpIndia also found the complete recording of the event, which was held at the Corpus Christi College of the University of Cambridge on 22nd May 2022, on the official YouTube channel of the Indian National Congress.

When the bluff of the Indian Overseas Congress was called out on social media, it was quick to delete the tweet without citing any apology or clarification.

OpIndia writes to Jesus College

Having found the glaring inconsistencies in the claims made by Congress about Rahul Gandhi delivering ‘special lectures’ at the University of Cambridge, OpIndia wrote to the administration of Jesus College and asked the following questions:

  1. When was the conference room booked and for how long?
  2. Who were the organisers of the event?
  3. Did the college administration invite Rahul Gandhi to speak at the event?
  4. How many attendees were present at the event?
  5. How much was paid by the organisers to book the Elena Hall?

Response of Jesus College busts claims by Congress

On Friday (1st March) evening, OpIndia received a response from a spokesperson of Jesus College of the University of Cambridge.

The official confirmed that the event organised at Elena Hall for Rahul Gandhi was a paid event and not organised by the college administration of the varsity.

The event was an external, commercial booking. The College had no involvement in the organisation or financing of the event,” the spokesperson emphasised.

Screengrab of the email received from Jesus College

It must be mentioned that while Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, both of them are legally separate institutions.

Conclusion

As such, it becomes crystal clear that Rahul Gandhi was not invited by the University of Cambridge for any ‘special lecture.’

In fact, the Congress scion halted his ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra’ for a paid event, conducted at a conference hall of a constituent college of the esteemed university.

It now makes sense why the Congress ecosystem has been rather tight-lipped over his ‘special talk’ at the University of Cambridge.

Congress shifts goalposts

Between 21st February and 1st March, the Congress party and its supporters have claimed different things about the alleged lecture of Rahul Gandhi.

Initially, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed that Rahul Gandhi would deliver two special lectures at the University of Cambridge. Later, a picture of him ‘speaking’ at a private, paid event at Jesus College of the varsity was passed off as his ‘special lecture’ at the University of Cambridge.

Later, the narrative was shifted to claim Rahul Gandhi was invited to Jesus College as a ‘keynote speaker’ by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL. It was also alleged that he addressed students at the Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge.

OpIndia has reached out to Jesus College, CISL, the Judge Business School and the University of Cambridge. In the meantime, the Congress party has not furnished any photograph or video from Rahul Gandhi’s supposed address to the students at the Judge Business School.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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