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‘It will be arrogant to say I understand poverty’

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CHARMING PRESENCE: AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Saturday. KPCC president M. Mallikarjuna Kharge is at right.
CHARMING PRESENCE: AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi addressing a press conference in Bangalore on Saturday. KPCC president M. Mallikarjuna Kharge is at right.

Special Correspondent

BANGALORE: All India Congress Committee general secretary and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that it would be arrogant from him to say that he could understand poverty.

He told presspersons at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office that he was not poor and therefore he could not understand poverty.

Concluding his five-day “Discover India” tour of the State, Mr. Gandhi said he could see considerable energy in the people when he met them across the State. He was happy he had a good interaction with the poor, Dalits, professionals such as software engineers and women. “I value the experience I gained, which was powerful, in the villages and thandas,” he said.

Mr. Gandhi said there was some misrepresentation in the media of what transpired between him and the professionals at the Indian Institute of Science. His first question to them was how many wanted to join politics and how many would opt for Infosys. He never asked them how many wanted to join the Congress. While three professionals expressed their desire to join politics, 50 wanted to work in Infosys, he said.

KPCC president M. Mallikarjun Kharge, the former Chief Ministers M. Veerappa Moily and S.M. Krishna and the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramiah and Union Minister of State and party in-charge Prithviraj Chavan and the Pradesh Youth Congress Committee president Krishna Byregowda were present.

Mr. Gandhi said that more youth Congress workers would be given the party ticket in the Assembly elections as they would bring in dynamism. At the same time, senior leaders would not be ignored, he said.

The Congress was a democratic party and his fundamental question was why this culture was not found in other organisations in the country. Immediately, he was asked to comment on his desire to end the high command culture in his party.

Asked who in the State Congress would be projected as the chief ministerial candidate, he said the party tradition was that it would be done after the elections.

Asked for his opinion on the tradition that a party leader from New Delhi opened an envelope announcing the candidate to become the legislature party leader, he said he did not believe that a leader could be selected through an envelope.

On the reaction of the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumarawamy that he was copying his village sojourn, Mr. Gandhi said that if the former Chief Minister was happy claiming so, it was good.

When a woman journalist asked him about his marriage and women being drawn by his charming personality, Mr. Gandhi smiled and expressed his appreciation about they way the people, particularly women, felt about him. About his marriage, Mr. Gandhi said he did not want to answer questions on personal matters.

About his reaction to farmers’ loan waiver, Mr. Gandhi supported Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He reminded his critics that nobody said that waiving of loans taken by sick industries was pointless.

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