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Rahul keeps his promise

After taking on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, UP government targeted her son Rahul Gandhi when a university refused him permission to interact with students, reports Haidar Naqvi.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2008 00:58 IST
Haidar Naqvi
Haidar Naqvi
Hindustan Times

After taking on Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Uttar Pradesh government on Friday targeted her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi when a university refused him permission to interact with students at Chandra Shekhar Azad University for Agriculture and Technology.

The university authorities even locked the venue and main gate of the university for Agriculture and Technology. But, the Congress general secretary managed to meet hundreds of cheering students at the university cafeteria.

Minutes before Rahul arrived at the airport here, vice chancellor Dr VK Suri told Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal to cancel Rahul's visit. "Suri told me most of students were off to their homes for Diwali and rest were busy with convocation," Jaiswal said. "He wanted me to understand his 'problem' and make sure Rahul didn't go to the university; I told him I will communicate it to Rahulji."

Rahul, however, decided to go ahead with the visit even as police officers tried to divert his cavalcade to the circuit house. It led to an argument with party leaders and near the Police Lines, two police jeeps escorting Rahul were asked to break away and policemen deployed along the way withdrawn. The Congress has accused the administration of jeopardizing Rahul's life by overlooking the security protocol.

When asked later, a calm and smiling Rahul said he was prevented from visiting the university, but he didn't know why the state government was being vindictive. "I had promised the students that I'll come, I just went there to keep my promise," he said.

When he reached the campus, the gate was locked. It took a lot of convincing to get the authorities to unlock the gate. Rahul then headed for the auditorium, but that, too, was locked. "Let it be, I will meet them somewhere else," Rahul said.

As he moved around, students joined him and even offered to double up as his security guards. They reached the cafeteria, which was packed. Rahul met students in groups of 10-15 and then joined them for a stroll on the cafeteria roof.

Defending his decision, the vice chancellor said: "I followed what I had been asked to do." But refused to divulge the instructions he had been given. District magistrate Anil Kumar Sagar denied that the security was withdrawn, he claimed elaborate arrangements were in place.

Reacting to the Congress' allegations, the state government said it was an attempt to malign its image.

Governor cancels varsity visit

Hours after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was denied permission to interact with students at the Chandra Shekhar Azad Agricultural University in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeswar on Friday cancelled his scheduled visit to its convocation.

The Governor, also the Chancellor of state universities, was to attend the convocation at 4 p,m., but cancelled the visit without citing any reasons, official sources said.

First Published: Oct 25, 2008 00:55 IST