The Congress general secretary, Rahul Gandhi tried to capture the young minds in Shimla by openly accepting ``what all has gone wrong in the political parties while giving them a vision for future.''
``You have to be open minded and flexible in approach. And learn as much as you can if you want to grow,'' he said at an interaction with students at Himachal Pradesh University campus here on Tuesday.
Rahul Gandhi, who visited Shimla for the first time as general secretary, seemed happy at the varsity campus as a rush of students waiting in wings to have a glimpse of him.
Rahul tried to satisfy as many, by shaking hands and saying hello to the youth. He even broke the security set up twice on the campus, and tried to slip into the crowds to mix up with the students.
About a thousand students were present in the auditorium, and equal number kept waiting outside the venue, as they could not be accommodated for want of space.
Asked about the relevance of old leaders in any party, Rahul went on to compare the leadership qualities of prime minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and leader of opposition, L.K.Advani. ``The first two are open to ideas and have flexible functioning. But Advani Ji is not flexible to new ideas,'' Rahul said.
He talked about democracy in the political organizations and said his effort was to have ``more youngsters coming from the grass roots to frontal organizations of congress party, the NSUI and youth congress''.
Rahul said ``the present political system is closed. It does not give a chance to ordinary and capable people come to the mainstream. ``My effort is to open the doors of frontal organizations of Congress, Youth congress and NSUI to such youth, who come through election. Groom them, train them, and ultimately take them in Congress, as they prove their worth.''
But, he hastened to add ``still we need to have a proper mix of the experience and the youth.'' In this regard, he said, ``Elders and the experienced have their own role in every organization. Look at Dr. Manmohan Singh. He is 70 years. But he is as energetic and positive in functioning as any young person.''
Rahul Gandhi was all praise for youth congress in Himachal in his address at the Congress Bhawan, where he went prior to varsity interaction.
``I appreciate he youth cadres and I am getting the back. In the times to come, the entire organization would be built up democratically through elections.
Whosoever does good work will be suitably accommodated in Congress,''Rahul said.
``It's a good move that we will have elections for youth congress body. It has enthused the ordinary youth cadres, as they will get a chance to contest and have their say in the organization,' said Rakesh Dharwal, state general secretary of Youth Congress.
The Congress leader said people make fun of his visits to the poor and the dalit families. ``I go to them to get knowledge, their perception and views. Its not a show off. I try that their feedback should be incorporated in the government policies.''
He said ``you cannot know the grass root situation sitting in Planning Commission in Delhi. Before coming out with policies for the poor, you have to know the pulse and the need.''
The Congress general secretary took a dig at political parties and cited example of Jinnah controversy that rocked BJP recently. ``What happened 63 years ago is a history. We have to move on.''
Rahul addressed the students for about half an hour, and then took six questions from the students in the next half an hour. This, however, disappointed many a aspirants who had pointed questions for Rahul in their mind but were not allowed to raise them for shortage of time.
``I wanted to ask him a specific question on his personal views on reservation. I tried it several times, but the organizers ignored me,'' said Joginder Saklani, general secretary, HP M.Phil and Ph.D Students Association.