Congress vice-president interacts with Adivasi students in Maharashtra

Vandana Pawra (18) was excited when she was chosen by her engineering college to put a question to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “Is there any scheme for tribal students to get laptops,” she asked on Wednesday.

This was one of the many questions posed to him during his one-hour interaction with 300 Adivasi students in Dhule district.

Vandana told this reporter: “Mr. Gandhi said there are lots of schemes for tribal students. I really hope he does something for us.”

However, a B.Ed student, Mangala Pawara said: “We had come expecting concrete plans and promises, but we didn’t get any.”

Asked what his priorities would be if he became Prime Minister, the Congress leader said, “My becoming or not becoming Prime Minister does not matter. What is most important is that everyone here, especially women and youth in the country, should feel that this is their own country.”

Asking students to be change-makers themselves, he said, “My request to you, especially tribal youth, is to join mainstream politics. I want to see MLAs, MLCs and MPs from amongst you in the next 10 years, maybe even a Prime Minister also.”

However, it was perhaps 21-year-old Dipal Shirshat’s question that was the most talked about. She told this reporter: “I asked him ‘Why are you not married? Do you think it will impact your contribution to the country’?” Mr. Gandhi said he wanted to work for the development of the country. Asked if she was convinced with his answer, Dipal said, “He came all the way to meet us ... He should not get married and should work for the country.”

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