India - Rahul as PM ?Congress scion says 'question is open'
AMRITSAR/PATIALA: At 7 am, inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, the CCTV repeatedly zoomed in on a white kurta-pyjama clad figure sitting cross-legged and listening intently to kirtans sung by raagis. It was only then that senior Congress leaders as well as the Amritsar IG realized Rahul Gandhi had begun his Punjab darshan with a visit to Harmandir Sahib. "We wanted it to be low profile and less noisy," a Punjab Congress leader said. But as it is with his visits, Rahul, by the end of the day, had created quite a flutter. To a question on his possible elevation as prime minister of India, the 38-year-old AICC general secretary flashed his dimpled smile and told students at Patiala's Punjabi University that the question will remain "open, not closed." In the 30-minute slotted interaction that stretched to 90 minutes, before Rahul was literally pulled away by anxious Congressmen who wanted him to grace other functions lined up by them, the Gandhi scion said, "The question of my elevation to the PM's post is still open and has not been closed as yet." He, however, added that he didn't aspire to become PM but to "make our party strong at the grass root level." Prodded further, he dodged questions and picked up the ones on reservation in the education. "The key is to increase the number of universities and schools," he said. "I think instead of debating about the withdrawal of reservation, our government should focus on increasing the number of universities and colleges. Where this is not possible, we must increase the number of seats. I am in the favor of increasing the size of the cake and not seeing family members fighting for their share." The students gathered for the session had a lot on their mind though and wouldn't let Rahul off the hook. An interesting episode occurred when a student, neck up with knowledge about India's nuclear deal, stumped Rahul on one of the nitty-gritty. Rahul though for a moment and said, "Why are you asking me all this when you seem to know more about it than I do." As the hall burst out laughing, Rahul went on to terrorism and stressed that he is much in favour of dealing with subversive violence "more aggressively". A little pause later he quipped, "But it's not about implementation of Pota to control terrorism. Pota is ineffective and there is no need for this law in country. Tada is more stringent and I think we should not waste time in debates about anti-terrorism laws, focusing instead on immediately implementing effective laws to tackle terrorism which is threatening both nationally and at an international level." On corruption in politics, Rahul said it was discouraging youngsters from entering politics "which is working to the advantage of older politicians who don't want to leave their chairs". At Sunam, as Rahul was passing through to Sangrur, already late by three hours, someone told him about Udham Singh. Breaching security concerns, he ran to the martyr's statue and asking his cavalcade to stop for a while, offered flowers.