Modi rival Gandhi to rally UAE support ahead of 2019 Indian elections

Indian National Congress leader has announced he will head to the UAE in January to meet expats and business leaders during a whirlwind two day tour
Modi rival Gandhi to rally UAE support ahead of 2019 Indian elections
Indian National Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi will arrive in Dubai on January 11 and visit Abu Dhabi the following day.
By Shayan Shakeel
Sun 30 Dec 2018 11:16 AM

Bolstered by a strong showing in India’s state assembly elections earlier this month, Indian National Congress (INC) party leader Rahul Gandhi has announced he will head to the UAE to rally expat support ahead of the 2019 Indian general elections in April-May.

Gandhi will arrive in Dubai on January 11 and visit Abu Dhabi the following day.

His tour of the UAE will see him meet with prominent business leaders including BR Shetty and Azad Moopen at a luncheon for 200 people, address a crowd of an estimated 25,000 at a cricket stadium, and visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The third generation scion of India’s most prominent political dynasty, Gandhi’s visit will mark the first time in more than three decades that a leader of the country’s second biggest party has visited the UAE.

His visit comes as UAE-India ties grow. Trade between both countries is expected to cross $100 billion by 2020.

Long dismissed as a political novice, Gandhi took over as the leader of the INC in 2017 and has since visited a number of countries as part of his outreach including the US, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bahrain.

In the state assembly elections held in five Indian states on December 10, he led his party to victory in three crucial victories in the northern states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

The states were all formerly held by Indian PM Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The INC’s showing was seen as a stunning reversal for a party that has often been described as “ailing” by commentators in the country and revealing signs of fragility in the erstwhile unbreakable grip that Modi and the BJP have had on India’s political scene for the last few years.

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