On election campaign in Chennai on Wednesday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi surprised many by saying “I learn from Modi”. Rahul Gandhi was interacting with students of Stella Maris College for Women in Chennai where he made the comments.
"I learn from Modi. I don't hate him. Do you hate the person who teaches you?" Rahul Gandhi asked to students and got a big "No" as the answer. "The biggest teacher are the people who attack. The more you are attacked, the more you give love and affection back."
"Love is the foundation of every religion whether it is Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. I was watching the Prime Minister speech in Parliament where he was criticizing my father, grandmother, great grandfather and the Congress," Rahul Gandhi said.
"Inside me, I was feeling affection for him. He was so angry that he was not able to see the beauty of the world."
Rahul Gandhi said he felt that Modi didn't have the love he wanted. "I wanted to show affection and hugged him."
Wearing a jeans and T-shirt, Rahul Gandhi faced a range of questions from the students about the Congress-led UPA's plans for economic growth, bringing peace in Jammu and Kashmir, on charges against his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, views about the Modi government and the reason for hugging Modi in Parliament.
To a question on the status of women in the country, he said the situation was better in South India than in North India. There was the cultural aspect, he said.
33 per cent reservation for women in government jobs
Rahul Gandhi assured the audience that the UPA will reserve 33 per cent government jobs for women and pass the Women's Reservation Bill giving 33 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha if it wins the Lok Sabha battle.
Rahul also promised that the UPA government would simplify the procedures in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and have a low single tax rate.
On peace in J&K
On bringing peace back in Jammu and Kashmir, Rahul Gandhi said the first step was to build the bridge to the people there. It was built between 2004 and 2014 during the UPA government. As a result, terror attacks came down drastically and power was given to the people by holding elections.
Pakistan will carry out terror attacks, he said. "But we have to engage with the people of Jammu and Kashmir."
He criticized the central government for facilitating businessmen like Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and others to leave the country after defrauding the banks.
"The money deposited in the banks by people during demonetization was given to these businessmen," he said.
When a student queried why he did not mention the name of Robert Vadra along with these businessmen, Gandhi said: "The government has the right to investigate. The law must not be applied selectively. I am the first person to say investigate Vadra."
He asked the students how many times they had seen Modi taking any question.
According to him, the current central government was North India centric and he believed that all parts of India should have an equal say.
Gandhi said the world was moving from being US centric to US-China-Russia centric and India should not lean right or left but should stand straight.
The Congress President said that the biggest hindrance for economic growth was crony capitalism and corruption.
On the education system, Gandhi said there should be space for the government and everything cannot be left to the hands of the private sector.
There were lighter moments during the interaction with Gandhi asking the students to address him as Rahul and not as Sir -- which was applauded by the students.
Gandhi maintained that he was still a young politician.