The All India Congress Committee general secretary, Rahul Gandhi, has described the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, as the “cleanest man” in national politics in the present scenario.
Asked about three “most honest and non-corrupt politicians” in the country, Mr. Gandhi after Mr. Singh named the Defence Minister, A.K. Antony, and the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram. The AICC general secretary, who is also in-charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), was answering questions put up by the youth and student leaders at a youth convention held here during his day's visit to Gujarat on Friday to give a boost to the NSUI enrolment drive.
Media kept out
The media was not allowed to attend any of Mr. Gandhi's meetings with the youth and student leaders held in Ahmedabad followed by similar sessions in Rajkot and Vadodara in which he asked students to join the NSUI in large numbers and take active part in politics. According to the NSUI national general secretary, Shahnawaj Sheikh, and its Central Election Committee member, Vinaysinh Tomar, who briefed the media about Mr. Gandhi's visit, the AICC general secretary also described the Prime Minister as a “bullet-proof man” apparently indicating at his shield of honesty and non-corrupt past.
Mr. Gandhi, who has virtually re-modelled the youth Congress structure in the country by giving more stress to elective representations rather than nomination system of the office-bearers, said he want to follow the same pattern in the NSUI as well. He said he himself was a beneficiary of the present system of encouraging “family ties” and people with strong “connections and political family background,” but he disliked the system and wanted to encourage everyone having the potential to ride up the ladder instead of being picked at the top because of the “connections.”
“Fulfilling father's dreams”
But he said he himself had joined the politics only to fulfil the incomplete dreams of his grand-mother and father, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He believed that the “communication revolution” brought about by his father had benefited the poor and the common man to a great extent.
Telephones, which were considered to be a symbol of the rich and influential in the eighties, became a common household feature because of the communication revolution, he said.
‘Insult to Gujarat'
The spokesman of the Gujarat BJP, Vijay Rupani, claimed that Mr. Gandhi had called Gujarat as a “terrorist State” and it would never be tolerated by the people of the State. Pointing out that his mother and the Congress national president, Sonia Gandhi, had “abused” the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, as the “merchant of death,” Mr. Rupani said Mr. Gandhi's accusation of was not only an insult to the people of the State but also of the country.
The youth leaders present at Mr. Gandhi's meeting, however, could not recall the AICC general secretary having made any such derogatory remarks about Gujarat.