Dynastic politics to Ahinda appeasement, students grill leaders at Cong Town Hall

Dynastic politics to Ahinda appeasement, students grill leaders at Cong Town Hall

Dynastic politics to Ahinda appeasement, students grill leaders at Cong Town Hall

Law student B L Sanjay minced no words when he took on Congress leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao, Tourism Minister Priyank Kharge and Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda. It was the party's first Town Hall to connect with the youth.

"Please don't take this personally, but I see three out of five panelists on stage who have a political background. What chance do youngsters like me have in politics without money or political lineage," Sanjay asked, amid loud cheering from the audience.    

The Town Hall, as part of the Congress' Nanna Karnataka youth outreach campaign, turned out to be a no-holds barred contest on Tuesday, as students went all guns blazing. The party has planned 100 Town Halls all over Karnataka ahead of the polls.

Kharge conceded that political patronage in the family does provide a springboard. "But you must know that we are elected, not selected. I had to put in 20 years of work before I got a ticket to contest and I lost my first election," he said. Gowda said there was another face to the Congress, one that comprised leaders who had no political background. "I agree the society isn't fair. And I could be uprooted someday by someone coming from the grassroots."

The Jnanajyothi auditorium was full, with students from Mount Carmel College, Seshadripuram College, VHD Home Science College, Maharani's Science College for Women among others. They grilled the panel of Congress leaders, which included MLC Rizwan Arshad, Rajya Sabha member M V Rajeev Gowda and Food and Civil Supplies Minister U T Khader.

Kavita asked why SC/STs were showered with so many benefits, including free laptops, at the cost of students of the general quota. "There's a Constitutional mandate to protect SC/STs. We have to live with it. But our government is giving laptops for all, this time, and also free bus passes," Rao said.

But what is the point in giving free bus passes when women feel unsafe and are expected to stay home, Renuka asked.

Shailfa asked why student elections were banned in Karnataka, to which Rao said it was time to consider revoking the ban. "We will discuss this seriously. When student elections happen in other states, why not in Karnataka?" he said.    

Students also wanted to know why the party was reaching out to the youth closer to the polls, and why every government starts working only in the fourth year of its term. "When is it that you start studying for exams?" Rao quipped, leaving the students in splits.