Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has stated that he did not anticipate his disqualification from the Lok Sabha when he entered politics, but that it has provided him with a "huge opportunity" to serve the people.
Gandhi, who is on a three-city US tour, made the statements on Wednesday night in answer to a series of queries from Indian students at Stanford University in California.
The Wayanad (Kerala) MP was barred from the Lok Sabha earlier this year after a Surat court convicted him in a 2019 criminal defamation case over his "Modi surname" statement.
Gandhi stated in his speech that when he entered politics in 2000, he had no idea what he would face.
What he sees now is much beyond anything he could have imagined when he entered politics. In response to his exclusion from the Lok Sabha as a Member of Parliament, Gandhi, 52, stated that he did not believe something like this was conceivable.
"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. We're struggling to fight the democratic fight in our country,” he said, adding that at this point in time, he decided to go for the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
"I am very clear, our fight is ours fight,” 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 the University here. He also emphasised in his frequent foreign trips like this, he is not seeking support from anybody.
"I don't understand why the prime minister doesn't come here and do it,” Gandhi asked amidst applause from the audience who had packed the entire auditorium at Stanford.
The moderator stated that the Prime Minister is welcome to visit Stanford at any time to meet with students and academics. Because the auditorium was so full, several students were sent away. Students began waiting two hours before the event began.
Several Indian politicians have met with Indian students over the previous year and a half.
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