Rahul Gandhi expresses regret over journos treated badly

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Hubli, Mar 26 (UNI) AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi regretted that mediapersons were treated badly during his visit to Mangalore this morning, as part of his five-day visit to Karnataka.

Surprised to see the waiting mediapersons, before attending a function here, he said, ''you are in a cage. It is not fair.'' During his visit to Mangalore, mediapersons were evicted from the venue where he was addressing college students. This had resulted in a protest by the journalists.

Reacting to a question, he said that he was not avoiding the media. ''No, I am not avoiding the media. I do not want to disappoint you. Most of the time, a couple of journalists ask for quotes and if I do so, others will become unhappy. All of you come together and I have no problem in speaking to you,'' he said.

Asked whether he had come to rejuvenate the party in Karnataka, he said, ''I am here to meet people and interact with them and to know their mind and nothing else.'' ''I am enjoying my trip. When you meet more people you gain more knowledge and we all need this,'' he said.

On the allegations made by JD(S) and the BJP leaders on his visit that he was only copying JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy's earlier village visits, he refused to react. ''I am here just to meet people,'' he said cryptically.

On whether he would be the next prime ministerial candidate and what would be his priority once he becomes the prime minister, Rahul said, ''now better I should run.'' UNI MA RS SLD KN2208

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