Sunday, January 29, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Pitroda’s new role: OBC poster boy for Cong in UP polls

Pitroda's new role: OBC poster boy for Cong in UP polls
Deepa Jainani
Posted online: 2012-01-29 03:35:41+05:30

LucknowYes, I am the son of a carpenter, and I am proud of it!" This
is none other than Satyanarayan Gangaram Pitroda, aka Sam Pitroda, the
IT czar who sired the Indian telecom revolution, in his new avatar as
star campaigner for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

"If Pitroda can do it, so can you. So can a million others as well. In
order to change the face of India, we first need to change the heart
of India. The body cannot leave the heart behind," Pitroda tells
leaders from his community, who gather to meet him as he releases the
party's Vision 2020 document in Kanpur on Friday.

Comfortable in his new role as poster boy for wooing the backward
castes, after Rahul Gandhi announced in a rally of "most-backwards"
last month that Pitroda belonged to the Vishwakarma caste and was a
badhai (carpenter) by profession, he tells this reporter: "I thank the
Congress party for giving me this opportunity and though I have many
engagements, I will do whatever little I can do to help."

While he is upfront in owning up to his caste background, as well as
his friendship with the Gandhi family, Pitroda makes little of the
hype that Rahul deliberately revealed his caste to woo the OBCs, and
that he is the Congress' trump card against BJP's Uma Bharti and Babu
Singh Kushwaha. "What Rahul said should not be seen in the context of
caste and vote bank politics. It was a statement made to mirror a
reality that exists. And also the fact that caste identity is not
supreme. Opportunity is the key and if I can use opportunities that
came my way and make it so far, why cannot they?" he argues.

Stating that Rajiv Gandhi wanted UP in the forefront and technology
was the key to solving problems relating to infrastructure, health and
education, he says the next 10 years are very crucial for India and
for UP. "I strongly believe that if the rest of India is growing at
8%, UP must grow at 10%. Growth has to reach the bottom of the pyramid
and basic needs relating to education and health need to be addressed.
To weed out disparity, which is our biggest problem, we need to focus
on young talent and the role of technology. This is a vision of the
Congress, the vision of Rajiv Gandhi. His unfinished agenda will now
be completed by his son Rahul. He has the same vision, he understands
technology," says Pitroda, sounding like a seasoned politician.

Currently adviser to the Prime Minister on public information
infrastructure and innovations, Pitroda is likely to address some
political rallies of the Congress in eastern and central UP. Raj
Babbar, chairman of the UP Congress media campaign committee, says,
"It is unfortunate that the state has stopped where the Congress left
it 22 years back. Since then, no work has been done on the development
front, be it industrialisation or agriculture. The Congress has a
vision for the state, a concrete road map which has been prepared on
the basis of the feedback of the people. Since Sam Pitroda comes from
the working class, he can explain, not just to the English speaking
classes, but also to the backward classes what it means to think big.
He has the credibility to go to the people and tell them, 'We can do
it; we will do it'."


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