The All India Congress Committe (AICC) general secretary Rahul Gandhi sprang a surprise to the students who assembled at Sarvodya Vidyalaya, Nalanchira, here on Wednesday by avoiding the usual attire of a politician.

The 1,800 students and others, who were here for an interaction, were taken by surprise to see Mr. Gandhi clad in a short check shirt, black trousers and a pair of white sports shoes. Later, answering a query, Mr. Gandhi said he preferred to be dressed in this manner for his interaction with college students although he normally had a ‘uniform’.

Accompanied by National Students Union (NSU) president Hibee Eden and NSU general secretary, Meenakshi Natrajan, MP, Mr. Gandhi reached the school premises at 11.25 a.m. from Indira Bhavan, the KPCC headquarters. He was greeted by the students of the school who lined up all the way from the main entrance with colourful balloons. He did not disappoint the students who were eagerly waiting for him and stepped out of the car to greet them to shake hands.

Like a seasoned politician, the AICC general secretary handled the queries of the students with ease. The first question thrown at him by a student of the Mar Ivanios College was on the single problem he would like to highlight. Instead of replying, Mr. Gandhi posed a query to the students on what is the greatest strength of the country.

The questions varied from why he did not take up ministerial berth in the UPA government, corruption among politicians and whether it can be checked by increasing the salary and perks of elected representatives to whether the nation is benefited from those going abroad for higher education. Mr. Gandhi pointed out the education of the Father of Nation abroad and the valuable service to the nation by Non-Resident Malayalees working in the Middle East.

He asked the students to raise their hands if they felt the elected representatives needed a hike in salaries. Except for the student who posed the query, no one raised his/her hand. Mr. Gandhi said the elected representatives were getting a ‘decent pay’ and should not be compared with other countries.

A student of the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College pointed out the difficulties faced by the patients in setting apart a ventilator for Mr. Gandhi’s visit to the State capital. “It is disgusting and it will be ensured that such incidents do not take place for a VVIP visit,” the AICC general secretary said.

Principal of the Mar Ivanios College, Mathew Manakarakavil welcomed the gathering and Principal of the Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Antony Eapen proposed a vote of thanks.

After the one hour interaction, Mr. Gandhi noted a group of college students waving at him outside the main gate while he was proceeding to the airport. Surprising the security officials, he stepped out from the car and jumped into the divider and shook hands with them and exchanged pleasantries.

Elaborate security arrangements were in place at the college premises in addition to the three-tier security shield for Mr. Gandhi, who is also protected by the elite Special Protection Group (SPG).

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