funny bone

Watch: Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav's road show in Lucknow quickly became a comedy of errors

No one makes fun of the Congress vice-president better than himself.

Luck doesn’t seem to favour Congress scion Rahul Gandhi. In January, he took a page out of the prime minister’s book with an aggressive speech against demonetisation and Narendra Modi in Delhi. But he’s back to being the butt of jokes on social media. When he’s not busy waking up “last night in the morning”, he fumbles his way through press conferences.

Recently, after the Congress vice-president and Uttar Pradesh’s Samajwadi Party Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav joined hands in what they termed a “historic alliance” between their parties for the UP elections, the duo took out a 12-km road show and rally in Lucknow. The video above catches Gandhi in one of his signature faux pas moments.

When a representative of the the “number one” local news channel J News asked Gandhi what their alliance offers Muslims since the BJP hasn’t singled a single candidate from the religion.

“Modiji also says I am number one,” Gandhi responded. “Just like you said, ‘I am number one.’ The only difference between you and him is that you say, ‘I am number one and he is number two.’ But Modiji says, ‘I am number one, there is no number two.’ Now I have forgotten the question.” Even Yadav cannot control his laughter at this point.

At another point in the road show, a picture showing Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav trying to avoid electrical wires went viral on social media, and more than one wag had a thing or two to say.

Some fake news got spread as well.

In the rest of the joint press conference, the duo took digs at Narendra Modi, demonetisation and suggested why their alliance was the best thing to happen to UP.

“This is an alliance for the progress, prosperity and peace of UP,” Gandhi said. “And it will fight against the BJP’s divisive politics of anger and for the youth and development of the state,” he said at the press conference.

“People want this alliance to be successful,” added Yadav. “If the cycle gets a hand then imagine how fast the cycle can move. These are the wheels of development. There is no doubt that we will get more than 300 seats.” He also referred to Modi’s election campaign: “Ache din waalon ne ache din dikhaaye nai” (Those who meant to show us the good days haven’t shown us the good days).

Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav joint press conference.

The alliance was decided on January 22 and while there are disagreements between the two parties about allocation of seats, the Congress will get 105 and the SP will get 298 of the 403 assembly seats in the UP elections scheduled between February 11 and March 8.

Not everyone is pleased with the alliance. “SP was capable enough to contest and win elections alone, there was no need for the alliance,” SP patriarch Mulayam Singh said on Sunday, explaining why he wouldn’t campaign for the alliance. “What about our leaders who could not get a ticket due to the alliance? What will they do for five years?”

He later backtracked, and said, all candidates of the alliance will get a “blessing” from him.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

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The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.