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Rahul Gandhi has struck a chord with students


Jairam Ramesh, Congress MP, Rajya Sabha
TSI | Issue Dated: April 5, 2016, New Delhi
Tags : Rahul Gandhi | Rajya Sabha | Congress | Modi Government |

How do you rate the two years of Modi government?

I’ll start with one example. Modiji had promised 50 million jobs for the youth in five years of his reign. As of now, leave alone 5 lakh, not even 5000 new jobs have been created. Naturally, the youth are crestfallen and there is a sense of resentment. And if that was not enough, this government has turned the environment inside educational institutions toxic. There is no way the youths of this nation are going to forgive this government for all this.

But Congress is also accused of politicising the campuses...

The facts lay bare after the incidents in Hyderabad University and JNU not only insinuate, but firmly indicate towards the involvement of the ruling dispensation and its allied organisations in creating the environment of fear. Take for example Hyderabad. The letter written by Minister Bandaru Dattatrey was linked with the unfortunate suicide of Rohith Vemula. The lies propagated by Human Resources Development Minister Smriti Irani were nailed by none other than the deceased’s mother. There is no doubt that this government is insensitive towards the pains of farmers, women and youths, and it will have to pay for its mistakes.   

Rahul Gandhi seems to be striking a chord with both farmers as well as the student community lately. How do you see this in the context of 2019 elections?

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s striking chord with farmers and student community is nothing new. His visit to console the victims of Bhatta Parsaul is still afresh in our minds. And that’s not all; he is always there to lend his support to any group or individual who has been wronged. This is the culture of Congress Party and should not be taken out of context. This is not about politicizing the issue. Politicking is part of any constructive political process. But we don’t politicize the issue.

The new rule mandating educational qualification till class 8 for someone willing to contest the local elections is being opposed by Congress. But the ruling dispensation of the states where it is being implemented, Haryana and Rajasthan, are of the opinion that if educated people participate in the local elections, it will only be beneficial.

This is very convenient. If there is no minimum qualification for contesting Lok Sabha elections, no minimum qualification for contesting Vidhan Sabha elections, in fact no minimum qualification for becoming the Union Minister for Human Resources Development; then why is this caveat for the local elections? The argument about educated lawmakers is right but in states that are lagging in education, and where female literacy is abysmal, this step can only be seen as a way to stop a certain section of females from becoming people’s representatives.  This is precisely why this particular amendment was mentioned in the Presidential address in Rajya Sabha. The government lost the vote. We want unilateral provisions in every institution that is elected by direct vote, and will demand relevant amendment in the Constitution. We will continue to protest against this draconian measure for the local elections. 

Then why doesn’t Congress demand a relevant law?

Education has been prioritized by our government and it has created awareness among the women. Who demanded reservation for women? It was us who did that. It is unfortunate that because of some opposition parties this could not be passed in the Parliament. Had this been made into law, the entire environment inside the Parliament would have been different. We strongly believe in education and empowerment of women and we don’t need to shout from the roof to establish our credential on this.

Congress has been using Rajya Sabha to undermine the government...

We only protest against wrong policies and inappropriate ways of implementing things. If this leads to the fall of the government or renders it lame-duck, we are not concerned.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017