Answers students’ queries on corruption, price rise, reservation and politics

On a mission to encourage students to enter politics through an interactive exchange of views, Congress general secretary on Tuesday Rahul Gandhi blamed the Uttar Pradesh Government for the poor state of education and health systems in the State. He said this in response to a query from a student who was worried over the falling standards of education and health in U.P. (and Madhya Pradesh) at an interactive session dubbed as ‘Talaash' (search) at Ravindralaya here.

“The governments in U.P. and M.P. have been elected by you (the people),” Mr. Gandhi said, thus implying that since these were state subjects, the Congress cannot be blamed for their declining standards.

With students from several institutions, including Lucknow University, Ram Manohar Lohia Law University and some colleges from Barabanki, participating, the interactive session lasted about an hour before Mr. Gandhi left for Jhansi and Agra for the two sessions there.

Questions ranged from corruption to price rise, reservation, electoral politics and politics as a career option. When a student wanted to know how come former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi could successfully contain price rise and corruption when she was at the helm of the affairs, Mr. Gandhi replied that Ms. Gandhi led a Congress government at the Centre whereas the UPA's was a coalition government.

The Congress general secretary differed with a student who said the quota system impinged upon the career options of general category students and was a “privilege”. “They are so backward that reservation serves as an instrument for their uplift,” he said, adding that seats can be increased in the institutions.

On the difference between electoral politics and nomination politics, he said corruption, if any, in the system of nomination was invariably concealed, whereas in the elected system accountability can be fixed.

A student was interested in knowing whether politics can be used as a career option.

To this Mr. Gandhi replied that politics is not a career but a sacrifice for the betterment of the country. He exhorted the students to join politics.

Asked whether he would have joined politics if he did not have the privilege of his political background, Mr. Gandhi said: “Maybe yes, maybe no.”

A comparison was sought to be drawn by a student on the development process in India and China, pointing out that both gained independence at almost the same time but China developed more. The Congress leader said comparisons could not be drawn as democracy has flourished in India where the individual is guaranteed freedom, whereas only infrastructure has developed in China.

In his opening address, Mr. Gandhi, also the general secretary of the National Students' Union of India, said that when the organisation was formed in 1971, it functioned as a closed unit and had a limited membership base. Now the membership has expanded and students should consider joining the NSUI, he said.

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