NEW DELHI, July 20 - Congress president Rahul Gandhi today hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and later appeared to wink in some dramatic moments in the Lok Sabha, capping his blistering attack on the BJP mascot, accusing him of being a bhagidar (collaborator) in corruption and not a chowkidar and saying people were victims of his jumla strikes.
Gandhi�s no-holds-barred attack at Modi on a range of issues, including the controversial Rafale jet deal, in his hour-long speech during a debate on the no-confidence motion against the Government often sparked loud protests from the treasury benches, but it was his walk across the green-carpeted Well of the House at the end to hug Modi that left almost everyone, not the least the Prime Minister, surprised.
Modi shook Gandhi�s hands but ignored his call to stand so that he could hug the BJP leader. The Congress chief, however, embraced him as he remained seated.
Modi initially looked nonplussed and did not stand up to hug him, but recovered quickly and called Gandhi back and patted him on the back. He also appeared to say a few words, which were inaudible
Gandhi presented it as his show of love for the BJP despite its �abuses�, including calling him Pappu, �hate� and �anger�. He said he was thankful to the BJP and the RSS for teaching him the meaning of Lord Shiva and what it means to be a Hindu and a Congressman.
�This is what it means to be a Hindu,� Gandhi said after coming back to his seat amid applause from his party members, including his mother Sonia Gandhi and other leaders present who heartily thumped their desks.
As Gandhi took his seat, he appeared to wink.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan later disapproved of his conduct, saying it was against the parliamentary decorum. Mahajan said she was not opposed to Gandhi�s hug but felt decorum must be maintained when it involved the Prime Minister.
Gandhi�s gesture was described as �childish behaviour� by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anant Kumar, while Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia rejected suggestions that it was pre-planned, saying it happened on the spur of the moment.
Supporting the no-confidence motion, which was first moved by the Telugu Desam party, he said the TDP like many others was a �victim� of BJP�s political weapon called �jumla strike� (gimmickry), �a fantastic political weapon of the 21st century�.
Taking on the Government on the alleged graft in the Rafale deal, Gandhi said, �I have no hesitation in saying that... under pressure from the Prime Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman spoke untruth to the people. Who are being helped? Nirmalaji, PMji, please tell the country.�
He said the Prime Minister had promised to be a chowkidar but had become a bhagidar. Gandhi�s speech was marked by noisy protests from the treasury benches as he targeted Modi and projected the RSS, BJP and its top leaders as agents of �anger and hatred�. � PTI