Thanks to media, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is more or less viewed as a 'pappu' by the public- someone who doesn't know what he's talking about.
Which is why, when he spoke to a group of experts in Washington DC, they were pleasantly surprised by his "cohesive" and "substantive" speech on policy. Many weren't expecting such knowledge from the Gandhi scion.
Some of the finest minds in different fields were present at a string of closed-door meetings in Washington DC.
Among those who talked to him were John Podesta, adviser to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama; former US ambassadors Tim Roemer and Richard Verma; representatives of the US-India Business Council; Republican senator Corey Gardner; Democratic White House veteran Neera Tanden; and Republican strategist Puneet Ahluwalia.
Gandhi discussed economic development, India-China relations, "recent Chinese activities in the region" and "how to deal with it".
It was surprising for many as "most politicians like to talk only about manoeuvres, political alliances and coalitions".
Most found him "very impressive", or "much more substantive than imagined", or someone who "spoke very cohesively".
"He seemed much in charge of himself (than before)," one said.
It is noteworthy that during his speech at the University of California, Berkeley, last week, he talked about a "BJP machine": "1,000 guys on computers…All they do is spread abuse about me." Even at Washington DC, he generally addressed the "dangers of social media".
This US tour of Rahul was planned as the beginning of a "new conversation" by Congress. The goal was to represent the "misunderstood" leader.
He has already interacted with the editorial board of The Washington Post, and with students at UC Berkeley.
Later he will address 3,000 Indian-Americans in New York.
Will this trip bring the much-needed boost for the party? Time will tell.
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