Rahul opens mind, silently

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By RADHIKA RAMASESHAN in Delhi
  • Published 24.11.05
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New Delhi, Nov. 24: Rahul Gandhi is taking a comprehensive course in political education. But like a schoolboy anxious to avoid the “swotter” label, he is doing it quietly, away from the public eye.

The syllabus has been broad enough ? ranging from the high-profile infotech sector to insurgency in the country’s northeastern outback and the nuances of Uttar Pradesh politics. But even as he learns assiduously, Rahul has avoided flaunting his cerebral acquisitions either in Parliament or outside.

Congress sources said the Amethi MP, intent on keeping his education away from the limelight, has turned down invitations from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and other such august bodies.

Last night, Rahul met Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first officially elected Prime Minister, at the Taj Hotel for an hour. Yew, who is on a visit to India and West Asia, had called on Rahul’s mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi just before the young MP met him.

Yew is regarded as the founding father of modern Singapore and is credited with converting the 600-sq- km island of 3 million people into the world’s ninth-richest country in per capita terms. On a visit to the Infosys campus in Bangalore, Yew had asked N.R. Narayana Murthy, the chairman: “What does it take for a person like you to enter politics?” Murthy was reportedly nonplussed.

On his expanding learning itinerary, Bangalore’s IT hub was one of Rahul’s stopovers and Infosys was on his schedule.

Unlike his well-publicised visits to his constituency which are peppered with political statements and comments on the Mulayam government, Rahul’s learning process has been largely concealed from the media.

He has been to Assam for an insight into the insurgency problem; at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, he has sat through a two-day seminar on Uttar Pradesh politics in the 1990s -- that is, the Mandal-Ram Mandir era.

Rahul has also been interacting with N.C. Saxena, member of the National Advisory Council. Saxena has contributed concept papers on governance, tribal rehabilitation and public health and has reportedly spoken to Rahul on these subjects.