Rahul catches Modi by surprise; hugs him after sharp attack during no-trust vote against govt

NEW DELHI, Jul 20: He is known for his hugs, but this was one hug Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not expecting.
After a no-holds-barred and scathing criticism of Modi on several issues including the Rafale jet deal, on Friday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi walked across the green-carpeted well of Lok Sabha to Modi and hugged him – a gesture which took the treasury bench members by surprise.
The Lok Sabha on Friday took up for debate the no-trust vote against the Narendra Modi government, the first since the BJP-led dispensation came to power four years ago.
Gandhi’s unexpected gesture, which quickly became a favoured video clip for television channels, came during a debate on the no-confidence motion moved by the TDP against the Modi government. Gandhi’s speech was frequently disrupted, prompting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the house for 15 minutes. When he resumed his speech, Gandhi continued his attack. Just before wrapping up, he strode over to Modi for the now-famous hug.
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.
BJP MPs sitting behind Modi watched the brief interaction open-mouthed as the prime minister smiled at Gandhi as he walked back to his seat.
“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.
Sharply criticized for his reported remarks that “Congress is a Muslim party,” Gandhi said, “Prime Minister Modi, BJP and… have taught me what it means to be a Congress person, the meaning of being a real Indian, and what it means to be a real Hindu. For this, I thank them.”
He also said his opponents may hate him, call him “Pappu” but he has no anger or hatred against the prime minister and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
This is likely the first time that an opposition leader has hugged the prime minister in the house, especially during a no-confidence motion. Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur stood up and took objection to Gandhi’s hug.
Speaker Mahajan also gently reminded Gandhi that this was the country’s legislature and not a place for such gestures.
Telugu Desam Party’s Jayadev Galla initiated the discussion on the no-confidence motion.
Opposition parties have brought the motion against the government on several issues like special status to Andhra Pradesh, cow vigilantism, lynchings, atrocities against women and Dalits and alleged dilution of the SC/ST Act.
In a house of 535 members, the ruling National Democratic Alliance has 313 members in the Lok Sabha, including 274 (including the speaker) of BJP, 18 of Shiv Sena, six LJP and four SAD.
The stated strength of the opposition is 222, including 63 of the Congress-led UPA, 37 of AIADMK, 34 of TMC, 20 BJD, 16 TDP and 11 TRS.
The opposition move for a no-confidence motion was not allowed in the last budget session that was washed out due to continued uproar by TDP, TRS and some other parties demanding that government agree to the motion.
The speaker had then disallowed them on the ground that the house was not in order as there was continuous upoar and protests in the well by members on various issues. (PTI)