Rahul Gandhi, India’s top opposition figure, has said his disqualification from Parliament has given him a “huge opportunity” to serve the people.
The former Congress president, who is a US tour, made the remarks on Wednesday (31) night in response to a series of questions from Indian students on the Stanford University Campus in California.
He was disqualified from the Lok Sabha or the upper house of Parliament earlier this year after he was convicted by a Surat court in a 2019 criminal defamation case.
Gandhi, 52, said that when he joined politics in 2000, he didn’t imagine his disqualification would be possible.
“But then I think it’s actually given me a huge opportunity. Probably much bigger than the opportunity I would have. That’s just the way politics works,” he said.
“I think the drama started really, about six months ago. We were struggling. The entire opposition is struggling in India. Huge financial dominance. Institutional capture,” he said.
It was at this point of “fight for democracy” that he decided to go for the Bharat Jodo Yatra or his march from south India to north last year, he said.
“But there is a group of young students from India here. I want to have a relationship with them and want to talk to them. It’s my right to do it,” he said during his interaction with Indian students and academicians of Indian origin at Stanford.
“I don’t understand why the prime minister (Narendra Modi) doesn’t come here and do it,” Gandhi said amid applause from the audience, who had packed the entire auditorium at Stanford.
He also emphasised in his frequent foreign trips that he is not seeking support from anybody.
The moderator said that the prime minister is welcome to come to Stanford at any time and interact with the students and academicians.
Some of the students were denied entry as the auditorium was packed. Students started queuing up two hours before the event started.
In the last one and a half years, several Indian ministers have interacted with students.