Thiruvananthapuram : The media had thrust a Dalit “frame” on his visits to poor districts of the country, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi said here Wednesday while stressing that he did not believe in the caste system and only saw people as human beings.
“I see myself going to a human being’s house. I don’t see it as a Dalit or an upper caste or lower caste house. As far as I am concerned, I am going to the poor man’s house, whether a Dalit or minority,” Gandhi said at a press conference here.
Gandhi, who arrived here Wednesday and will also visit Kochi and Kozhikode before leaving Thursday, said the media was to blame for the Dalit tag on his visits to poor villages in the country’s remote districts.
“This differentiation occurs in the media, this doesn’t happen in my mind. I personally don’t believe in the caste system… The only difference I see between a poor person and rich person is that of opportunity.”
He added vehemently: “This frame of Dalit (visits) is your frame not mine.”
Gandhi lashed out at sceptics saying that a “young politician” like him trying to get close to the people could not do so “sitting in an air conditioned office”.
The “way it works” in Uttar Pradesh, for instance, he said, is that he tells his office to find the poorest village in the state and take him to the poorest man’s house there. “The poorest are intelligent but don’t have opportunity.”
Asked about the objectives of his tours across India, he shot back saying that he was an inexperienced politician and was learning about the problems faced by the people in the country.
“I will learn till I die. Learning is action and action is learning,” he retorted, to a question on when the learning would end and actions begin.
Referring to the recent spurt in Maoist attacks in states like Jharkhand and Orissa, he said: “There is a connection between Naxalism and the lack of ability of local governments to reach the people… the more people are involved in politics and the closer they are to the political system, the more involved they would be and less likelihood of Naxalism taking place.”
Gandhi is in Kerala to recruit members for the Congress youth wing and the National Students’ Union of India.
Unlike his previous visits to the state, this time it has been decided that none of the three interactions with the youth would be open to the media.
Dressed casually in jeans and a shirt, Gandhi said he would not be a decision maker in the Youth Congress and the students union.
“The positive aspects are that the youth are certainly predisposed towards the Congress and the youngsters in the country should come forward to enter politics. The talent search being conducted is only a supportive programme for the organisational elections,” said Gandhi.
After the media interaction, he took part in the executive committee meeting of the party and addressed the youth leaders. He then left for a college to address youth in a closed door interaction.
The night before, he echoed the view in the Tripura capital Agartala, when he said: “Congress wants fresh blood. Unsullied and young leaders to remove the woes of people living in the hinterland of rural India.”
“The youth wing of the Congress is being democratised. Both Youth Congress and the students wing of the party – National Students Union of India – must be more aggressive in implementing party programmes.”