Rahul visits St Stephen's,clears air on controversial comments

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New Delhi, Nov 11 (UNI) It was a homecoming of sorts for Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, when he visited his alma mater St Stephen's College today.

''I didnt realise that almost 20 years have gone by since I left college, until I was reminded of it by someone here. Now I feel suddenly old,'' he said, during a warm interaction with the students.

The visit comes after his comments about not being encouraged to ask questions in college had earned him the ire of many a Stephenian and the faculty.

Addressing the students in a packed auditorium, the young MP urged them to take an active interest in the political process.

He completely agreed with a student, when the latter pointed out that it was not easy to enter politics without the right connections. ''Since I came from a political family, I had an advantage. But if you want to join politics nobody can stop you,'' Mr Gandhi said.

Clearing air on his comments that sparked off a controversy, Mr Rahul said he had made those comments in the presence of some school children, who he thought were not being encourged to ask questions. ''It is very important to ask questions. I also thought it happened to me as well. I was not speaking in a generalised manner.'' As his visit coincided with the National Education Day, he stressed on the importance of education, and urged the youth to contribute to the growth of the nation and well being of society.

To a question by a student on why nobody wanted to become teachers, he said the education system should be managed by educators and not politicians. The politicians do their bit to interfere in the appointment process, Mr Gndhi said, adding ''agreed that a lot needed to be done in the direction.'' Mr Gandhi too threw a few questions at the students. When a student said he dreaded failure the most, the Gandhi family scion replied, ''One should not fear failure as we come across it almost everyday.'' He also urged students not to buckle under pressure from any quarter. ''People who threaten are actually scared of themselves of your ability to do well,'' he said, in the backdrop of ABVP activists threatening students against joining a peace march recently.

The meeting was kept out of bounds for the media. Waiting mediapersons also got into a verbal duel with security personnel, after they were not allowed inside the college premises.

Mr Gandhi was a student of the college for a year in 1990, after which he studied at Harvard University.

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