Pitroda praises Rahul Gandhi for his ‘nonsense’ remark

    By IANS,

    New Delhi: Sam Pitroda, adviser to the prime minister on information infrastructure and innovation, has said Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi did the right thing in describing as “nonsense” an ordinance favouring convicted politicians.

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    “I personally thought that was good. Okay, I thought that was one way to represent,” Pitroda told Rajat Sharma during India TV’s show “Aap Ki Adalat” being broadcast Saturday night.

    When Sharma said Gandhi could have used milder words, Pitroda replied: “You don’t have to be polite all the time. It’s okay. It’s alright for you to become mad once in a while. You’re not trying to score something.”

    Pitroda, reportedly close to the Gandhi family, made several remarks about Rahul Gandhi’s persona.

    “To me, he is a bright young man, low-key, not flashy, not out there to create an image. He’s fairly humble, well read, compared to what people think, he’s very analytical and he does things in his own way, like lot of our young people do. That’s the way it should be”, said Pitroda.

    Asked by Sharma whether Pitroda “advised” Rahul Gandhi, he said: “It’s a lie. I sometimes speak to him, but to speak and to advise somebody are two different things.”

    Pitroda said he had given some tips about computer software programming language C to Gandhi several years back.

    Asked about Finance Minister P. Chidambaram saying that Gandhi was not being given proper advice and he should raise national issues, Pitroda said: “That’s his privilege. Chidambaram should talk to him”.

    On whether Gandhi should raise national issues in his speeches, Pitroda replied: “That’s his privilege. That he should decide. Why should I decide?”

    On whether Gandhi knew less about economics, Pitroda said: “Not true. He’s well read. He’s studied well, but somehow people create their own image.”

    Pitroda said he had gone with Gandhi on a three-day tour to Amethi and had samosas and jalebis on the roadside with him.

    “Kuch toh khana padta hai. Wahan jalebi aur samosa hai to jalebi aur samosa khayenge (We had to eat someting. We found those and we had to eat them),” he said.

    Asked why he was refraining from giving proper advice to Gandhi, Pitroda narrated an incident that took place in 1986 in Bhopal, when he had gone there with Jairam Ramesh.

    “A young fellow gave us a list of advice for Rajiv Gandhi and said if Rajiv followed the advice, he would rule for the next 15 years. I asked him, what are you doing. He replied, ‘I am jobless’. So in India, people do not know their jobs, but they know what advice to give to the PM. Most people in India know what others should do,” he said.

    Pitroda described as “lies” the media reports that said he was behind preparing the Congress party’s manifesto, strategy and vision document.

    “I must tell you, as adviser to the prime minister, when I meet the PM I never talk about work. I was with Rajiv Gandhi for 10 years, but we seldom talked about work.

    “That’s my job. I don’t go and tell Manmohan Singh what work I am doing. He knows what I’m supposed to do. I am a qualified man. I don’t need to go and give him advice. I need to do my job.”

    “Yeh India mein wrong idea hai sabke paas, ki adviser meaning you are advising. Adviser means you do your work. Our work is very clearly spelt out, that is innovation and information infrastructure. That’s what I do. I never tell the prime minister what he should do on innovation,” he said.

    Pitroda said he has never advised the Congress party, except once in 1985.

    “Let me tell you the facts. To put it on record. When Rajiv Gandhi gave his speech in Mumbai in 1985 at the Congress centennial celebration, he came to Delhi and asked me, ‘Did you read my speech’. I said yes, what next? What’s going to happen? He said, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘Wait, I will put together a plan on party’s rejuvenation’. This was 1985.

    “Immediately, I can tell about it now, I never talked about it for 25 years. I don’t discuss personal things in public. But now that you have raised, I can’t hide. See, I put together a document. Immediately he called his people – Arun Singh, Arun Nehru, all the gang. We looked at it. That was the document I prepared in 1985. That’s it. That document is still alive.”

    Asked about Rahul Gandhi mentioning his caste as carpenter thrice in a rally in Uttar Pradesh while releasing the party vision document, Pitroda said: “Look, Jesus Christ was also a carpenter. What difference does it make.

    “I’m proud to be the son of a carpenter. That’s a fact of life, but when I studied computer technology, my caste got wiped out. I have a new caste. Education is always redefining yourself. But I can’t forget I am indeed the proud son of a carpenter.”

    Asked why Rahul mentioned his caste, Pitroda said: “I’m proud of it. What’s the problem? Indian media always looks at things with a twist. Because they have to sell newspapers. His message, according to me, was ‘If Sam, a son of a carpenter, can do it, you can also do it’. That was the message, but you can twist anything.”

    On the CBI director’s remark that food security and other schemes were corruption-prone, Pitroda said: “First of all, in a country of our size, there will always be some leakage. You will have to accept that.

    “If you are worried about leakage, you will not do anything. You’ve got to accept that as part of life. In India, we have 200 million hungry and we have food surplus. If we don’t feed our people well, we will not have the workforce for the future. We need nutrition, we need to give our children enough food. I am all for food security.”

    Pitroda also spoke about the National Knowledge Network that his team is working on.

    “Our job is to democratise information. We think it will change the face of the country in 10 years. It will change the lives of all the young people in 10 years.

    “We are creating a National Knowledge Network to connect 1,500 nodes with 50 gigabytes bandwidth to connect all our colleges, all our universities, all our libraries, all our R&D institutions.

    “Then, we are connecting 250,000 panchayats through optical fibre. It will take may be another two years. These two networks will cost us around Rs.50,000 crore.”

    He also spoke about the UID project by Nandan Nilekani and others that would cost another Rs.50,000 crore.

    Around 10,000 software experts are working in government projects now.

    “No government in the world would even think of this. When I explained this to US President Barack Obama, he was literally surprised. We don’t get credit for it.”