Muslim can become PM if he is capable: Rahul


Rahul Gandhi

"It is not about what religion or community you come from, it is what you bring to the table, what capability you have," he said in an interaction with students of the Aligarh Muslim University.

He was replying to a question that having come a long way after Independence how much more time will it take for India to have its first Muslim prime minister.

"Today, Manmohan Singh is not the Prime Minister of India because he is a Sikh. He is the Prime Minister because he is the most capable person to do the job.

"And let me tell you something that even when you do have a Muslim prime minister, he will be a prime minister because he is the most capable person," 39-year-old Gandhi said.

He told a questioner, "You need to step up and the number of leaders coming out of your community needs to go up. You got today a Sikh prime minister that nobody would have ever imagined in a country of over a billion people that we would have a Sikh prime minister. Sikhs are a very small percentage of this country."

Gandhi said his effort was to involve people from different communities and from different parts of India in the political system.

Exhorting Muslim youths to participate in national politics in a big way, Gandhi said, "Increased participation of Muslim youths is the ideal way to take on problems not only of the Muslim community but the country as a whole."

He said it was unfortunate that today there was hardly any young Muslim leader active in national politics.

Earlier, Gandhi was given a rousing reception on his arrival at the AMU campus. He first drove to the grave of AMU founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to pay tributes.

The Aligarh Muslim University Teachers' Association, which also hosted a reception in his honour, described his visit as "historic" and called Gandhi "the modern face of Congress party in India."

Gandhi told the gathering at AMU's Kennedy Auditorium, his political idol was Mahatma Gandhi, whose political method was to find suitable people and then make effective leaders out of them.

He said, "It is my aim that within the next five years there should be at least 25 young Muslims at the centre stage of Muslim politics."

Replying to a question from the audience, Gandhi said the Prime Minister had already instituted a high-powered committee to work out the modalities for implementation of the Sachchar Committee recommendations on the status of Muslims in the country.

Referring to his interactions with different segments and groups, Gandhi said, "My main objective today is to go out and meet the entire spectrum of Indian masses and find out what they are thinking. Unless I do so there is nothing much that I can achieve by remaining in the confines of my own environs."

He said barring criminal elements and religious fundamentalists all other people should participate in the political system if the country has to progress.

"I will come back to AMU very soon to fully understand your sentiments," he said.
Gandhi's visit to AMU is the seventh by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family since its establishment in 1920.

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