Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will leave India on Thursday to be with his mother Sonia Gandhi who is undergoing medical treatment abroad, the party announced.
A statement released by senior Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, "Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi is travelling abroad for a health check-up. Congress Vice President, Shri Rahul Gandhi, shall travel there today to be with her and accompany Congress President on the return journey."
Usually, it is either Rahul or daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who accompany their mother for her treatment abroad, but due to the Assembly elections this year, the Congress president travelled alone to the US.
Owing to her ill health, Sonia had not campaigned in the recently concluded five-state assembly elections. She also gave the counting day, March 11, a miss with party sources saying she left Delhi for a "routine medical check-up” and would return only after Holi.
Though they did not let in on where Gandhi has gone for the check-up, there was speculation that she was in the US where she had undergone treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
Sonia Gandhi went abroad on March 8. In 2011, she was allegedly operated on in the US, but her party refused to provide details of her condition, saying only that she was being treated in America. In August last year, she fell ill during a road show in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency of Varanasi, and was then hospitalized in Delhi, after which her attendance in parliament has been irregular.
Before flying out, she spoke to senior Congress leaders informing them of her plans; she stated that her son Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice President, will take decisions on her behalf.
Rahul's trip abroad comes amid calls within the party for "structural change" after the Congress's disastrous showing in the crucial election in Uttar Pradesh, where the party won just seven seats.
Earlier today, veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar also said there is a need to bring change in the Congress leadership.
Many party members in Manipur and Goa have blamed the Congress leadership of inaction and ceding advantage to the BJP, which cobbled together a coalition government in both states. Rahul has promised an organisational overhaul and introspection over the results.