The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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PM brainstorms with GeNext

New Delhi, Oct. 3: After idli-chutney politics with Left veterans over breakfast on Friday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today hosted Congress greenhorns in Parliament for a leisurely lunch, educating himself on issues affecting the next generation and trying to involve the young guns in governance.

Though the first such meeting was a spur-of-the-moment decision, Singh will now interact with such groups every fortnight. Later, he will invite the young MPs from other parties as well.

Among the MPs present at the lunch at 7, Race Course Road were Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, Jitin Prasada, Navin Jindal and Kishan Bhai Patel. Prithviraj Chavan, minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, attended.

Singh, who is keen to involve the younger generation in governance, quizzed them about the aspirations of the youth, their problems and how best to deal with them.

He also sought their suggestions on several issues affecting the youth and the country.

He had invited 10 MPs in all, but several could not make it as they were out of town. Singh hit upon the idea this week and the invitations were sent out on Friday.

Scindia said it was a 'good gesture'. 'We are very honoured that the Prime Minister took the initiative. We very well appreciate the gesture. It is our responsibility. We will take up specific issues with him from time to time,' he added.

Sachin Pilot, the youngest MP in the 14th Lok Sabha, missed the meeting as he was held up in Bhubaneswar due to bad weather and flight delay. When contacted, he said 'it is a good exercise. It is the first time the Prime Minister is inviting young MPs. It shows the party and the government are sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the youth'.

Scindia said the 'Prime Minister wanted to know the needs and aspirations of the younger generation in the country' and they discussed a wide range of issues such as employment, education, healthcare, sanitation, water, population and farmers.

The MP from Guna said Singh instructed them to meet their senior colleagues and exchange notes on 'issues we believe are important for the younger generation. We will meet him again with our suggestions'.

Prasada was as impressed as the others. 'It is a big initiative. It is for the first time that a Prime Minister has taken such a step to understand the views of the young parliamentarians,' he said.

Rahul Gandhi, who is holidaying at Ranthambore reserve, and Sandeep Dikshit, son of Sheila Dikshit, could not make it.

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