Youths should leave aside their thoughts about the presence of elderly leaders and join political parties in large numbers, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday.
"Do not worry about elderly persons. The door is open for youths. Let youths join politics in larger numbers," the Congress general secretary said during an interaction with students at Saheed Bhavan in Cuttack.
"Our Prime Minister is an elderly person, but he works like a youth," he said while replying to a question on elderly persons occupying positions in political parties.
Voicing confidence that youth could bring change in politics and also contribute in nation building, Gandhi said the elders were never a hindrance for them.
The All India Congress Committee general secretary held interactions with students at Cuttack and Berhampur on the first day of his two-day Orissa visit, as youths joined the sessions braving rain and chilly winds.
Gandhi highlighted the need for youth empowerment at the gathering of students at Berhampur University as part of his campus tour.
"Basically he told us about the need for proper utilisation and empowerment of the youth mass for speedy development of the country," said Pooja, an engineering student from Gandhi Institute of Engineering and Technology.
During his 75 minute-interaction at Berhampur, Rahul drew attention of students to the progress made by India and Japan in the last five decades, Pooja said.
Referring to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's anti-Centre campaign, Soumindra Pallur, a student from Ronald Institute of Engineering and Technology, wanted to know from Gandhi about the cause of Orissa's backwardness.
"The Centre never neglected Orissa or any other state ruled by non-Congress parties," Rahul said. While students in Cuttack and Berhampur were happy with their interaction with Gandhi, those at Samblpur were disappointed as he could not go there.
During the interactions with students, political leaders and the media were not allowed entry. Party sources said Gandhi would hold a similar session with students at Baripada in Mayurbhanj district tomorrow before winding up his Orissa tour.