New Delhi: Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal lashed out at Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi for his comment on the youth in Punjab. Rahul had said on Thursday that seven out of 10 youths in the state have drug problem. Reacting to the statement, Badal said Rahul Gandhi was misinformed. "The problem with Rahul is that he comes out of his palace once in a blue moon. For an hour or two, he will visit someone's hut. And then he goes back," he said.
Rahul Gandhi, who was on a two-day tour of Punjab, on Thursday said that the youth is the future of the country and it must come forward to "cleanse and change politics". He, however, expressed concern over the condition of youngsters in Punjab saying, "What is happening to human resource in Punjab. Seven out of 10 youths have the problem of drugs." He also claimed that the government in Punjab was not giving unemployment allowance to the young people. "We send scholarship money for SC, ST (Scheduled Castes/Tribes) categories. It is not utilised here (in Punjab) and is sent back," Gandhi said.
Quoting a diplomat from a European country, Gandhi said that if the 20th century was that of oil as source of energy, the 21st century was that of youth. "I have been in politics for eight years. One thing I see clearly, the level of participation of youths is not there. Whether in jobs, corruption, development, you are the solution. You have to run this country. You have the power and the knowledge to run it," he said while addressing a rally of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) at Panjab University campus in Chandigarh.
Reacting to the statement, Sukhbir Singh Badal said Rahul Gandhi was misinformed.
The Congress leader emphasised that the NSUI and the Youth Congress, the student and youth wings of the 127-year-old party, were the only ones to give youths a chance to enter politics. "We want you to come to politics, cleanse it and change it," he said at the rally. "Doors of politics were closed for you. We opened them in NSUI and Youth Congress. Today, lakhs of youths, who do not have any relatives in politics, are in our organization. When we talked of elected NSUI and Youth Congress in Punjab, other parties said this cannot be done. We did it and showed to them not only in Punjab but whole of India," he added.
Taking on the Opposition, Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the National Democratic Alliance it leads were opposing the Congress policies without any basis. "Our government brought FDI. When the BJP and NDA government were in Delhi, they were not opposed to FDI. We did it, they are opposing it. We gave MGNREGA (rural employment scheme) and land acquisition bill, they have opposed it too," he said.
"They want to stop work. Ask them what you want to do, they will not reply. Whatever Congress wants to do, they want to stop. Because they know that if they let us work, we will change this country. But we will not stop. We have the power of the youth and the future," he added. Earlier, Gandhi met senior Congress leaders at the Punjab state Congress headquarters in Chandigarh to get a feedback on the party's situation in the state.