Rahul Gandhi, charismatic general secretary of the Congress party,
fervently attempted to 'sell' politics to over 3,500 students and
youth - the leaders of tomorrow - during his daylong whirlwind
tour of Maharashtra Tuesday.
Gandhi interacted with students and youth in different age groups
- ranging from high school to junior college, and post-graduates
in medicine and management, in Akola, Aurangabad and Pune.
Around 1,200 students from 20 educational institutions were
invited and handed over special passes for the much-anticipated
event and, according to most students, Gandhi did not disappoint.
Among the topics he touched upon at all the three venues (Akola,
Aurangabad and Pune) - and sought students' views on - were
politics, education, agriculture and corruption, a party official
Engaging in an animated discussion with the students in Pune, the
Gandhi scion admitted that his Gandhi surname was a definite
advantage, but that should not deter others from joining politics.
Asked why he chose to join politics, he said that while the family
lineage was a decisive factor, he felt that politics was the
biggest instrument of change - "So I am in politics," he smiled at
a student who posed the query.
Urging students to join politics, Rahul Gandhi said that youth
must come forward and take the plunge into politics.
"Good people must join politics, they can help bring about many
positive changes and also help remove corruption," he pointed out.
Touching upon the issue of the rich-versus-poor divide, Rahul
Gandhi said that education can help reduce this gap and it is the
most effective tool for improving the life of the people.
"All the meetings were informal, the mood casual and the response
of the students was very enthusiastic," the party office-bearer
As per Gandhi's express instructions, politicians and mediapersons
were kept off bounds - barring Pune where only television
cameramen were allowed for the final 10 minutes of his programme
at the R.M. Auditorium in Chinchwad, on the outskirts of the city.
Earlier, in New Aurangabad's CIDCO Auditorium Rahul made a similar
impassioned plea to the assembled 1,300 students and youth from 25
colleges, urging them to join politics for the national cause and
to practice democracy in a real sence.
He replied to questions ranging from: How can youth make a
difference in nation-building? What is your blueprint for the
country's development? What is the solution to burning issues like
corruption, communalism and casteism plaguing the country?
And there was a sharp one - "Will you lead in the next Lok Sabha
Unfazed, Gandhi fielded all the questions effortlessly and ended
up leaving the young gathering in the three cities impressed.
After the 75-minute interaction in Pune, students told
mediapersons that "Rahul is prime minister material," "he is
earnest in his desire to bring about change," "he appears very
sincere, but did not offer any concrete solutions to the major
problems confronting the nation..."
The organizers had carefully selected the three cities for his
itinerary, with the National Students Union of India (NSUI)
elections slated next month.
While at Akola he met around 500 students of the Panjabrao
Deshmukh University from a pre-dominantly rural setting in the
Vidarbha region plagued by farmland suicides, in Pune, the
education and IT capital of the state, he interacted with an
In the historic city of Aurangabad, which falls mid way, there was
a big sprinkling of Muslims among the audience.
Party office-bearers say that Gandhi's interactions with the youth
and students were aimed at attracting them to the NSUI, the
student wing of the Congress party.
The NSUI is scheduled to hold internal elections and through his
meetings, Rahul Gandhi was seen as offering students the option of
joining politics through the party's student wing.