The sting in Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s speech of over an hour was in its tail. Just before he caught everyone by surprise by walking over to the Treasury benches and hugging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Gandhi raised the derisive nicknames that BJP leaders often used when talking of him.
“You may hate me. You have anger against me. For you, I may be a Pappu; you can abuse me but I have no anger, no hatred against you. I am Congress and they are all Congress. It is with this feeling that the Congress has built the nation,” Mr. Gandhi said, before wrapping up his speech.
And then, to everyone’s surprise, he walked across the well of the Lok Sabha to the Prime Minister’s seat and hugged Mr. Modi. It took the startled Prime Minister a few moments before he responded and shook hands with Mr. Gandhi.
As the entire Opposition got up and cheered loudly, Speaker Mahajan, however, reminded the Congress chief that there was a “certain decorum [and] rules to be followed in the House”.
Almost immediately, the social media platform Twitter exploded with hashtags such as #Pappujikihappi and #Hugplomacy with political leaders joining in with comments. The Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said, “ I think Rahul Gandhi ji has joined the real school of politics. The way he gave a magical hug to PM Modi, it wasn’t a hug but a jolt.”
Actor-turned BJP MP Kirron Kher mocked the Congress chief, and said he was headed to Bollywood.
A photo of Mr. Gandhi later winking also went viral, with Twitter users drawing a parallel between the Congress president and Malayalam actor Priya Prakash Varrier, who became an Internet sensation with her wink from a film song. “Rahul Gandhi’s Priya Varrier moment after ‘The Hug’ #ModiTrustVote,” Vipin Vijayan tweeted.