Rahul upsets Shillong journalists (Lead)

February 14th, 2011 - 8:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi Shillong, Feb 14 (IANS) Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s visit here turned out to be a PR disaster Monday with the media furious at being kept out of his interaction with students of the North East Hill University (NEHU) despite being invited.Journalists complained that in spite of being invited, they were kept waiting in a room for two hours when they arrived at NEHU while the Special Protection Group (SPG) conducted a security check.

After Gandhi’s arrival and during his welcome address, three cameramen entered to take photographs but were asked by the SPG to move out.

Earlier, the SPG had said only accredited news photographers and cameramen would be allowed to take pictures for 10 minutes from a distance of 70 feet.

The interaction was part of Gandhi’s country-wide meetings to encourage youth to join politics. Apart from a brief photo-opportunity, the media are usually kept away.

During the 45-minute programme, called Rendezvous with Rahulji, the Congress MP interacted with the students on a range of issues from corruption and rising prices to insurgency, programme coordinator G. Krishnan said.

The Congress-affiliated National Students Union of India (NSUI) utilised the occasion to distribute membership forms to encourage students to join the organisation. The last date for enrolment is Feb 28.

A civil society organisation was highly critical of Gandhi’s visit.

“It is a waste of money. The whole government machinery was used for two days for the preparation of his visit incurring huge expenditure. He should have interacted with the victims of recent ethnic clashes in Assam-Meghalaya border,” said Agnes Kharshiing, the president of the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO).

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