In a political system where dull uniformity seems a qualification for high office, the extroverted Bo Xilai has again seized the limelight with a high-profile political campaign. The charismatic Communist Party boss of Chongqing is advocating that 750,000 students from the country's largest municipality spend at least four months of their four-year studies to work with workers, farmers and People's Liberation Army soldiers in a 'social experience' exercise some are likening to Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. Like his two previous initiatives - a crackdown on local triads and their official friends and the holding of mass singing festivals of revolutionary songs - this one created a stir across the land and was highlighted in national news portals yesterday. There was a flood of feedback, with many people complaining about the glaring inadequacies of the mainland university system and supporting Bo in his attempt to broaden students' experience. There was also a note of cynicism and suspicion, however. Some compared it to the Cultural Revolution-era campaign ('Going up to the mountains and down to the villages') that sent virtually all secondary school graduates for re-education on farms or in factories. Some internet users criticised Bo's call as 'ultra-leftist' and asked whether he was trying to turn the clock back to the Mao years. However, Wang An , a writer, called it a typical PR stunt from Bo. 'He can't want a comeback of the Cultural Revolution, in which his family and himself were victims,' Wang said. Bo is the son of Bo Yibo , who was vice-premier and the man in charge of civilian industry on the mainland when the Cultural Revolution broke out. The elder Bo was purged and made a political prisoner. He did not regain his status until the beginning of the country's reforms in the late 1970s. The younger Bo is considered a key figure among the 'princelings' in Chinese politics - along with Vice-President Xi Jinping and Shanghai party boss Yu Zhensheng . Their parents were all victims of the Cultural Revolution. Bo is a member of the Politburo and believed to be in the running for elevation to the even more powerful Politburo Standing Committee in two years. With a master's degree in journalism from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, he distinguishes himself from other high-ranking officials, who are often low-key, by his expertise in public relations. 'He wants to look different - as bright and colourful as he can be, in contrast with the other dull personalities in high places,' Wang said. But it is hard to predict whether Bo's PR stunts will help advance his political career. Wang said they may if they generate generally good feedback, but if he is seen as being too independent, they could backfire. Both previous Chongqing campaigns, nicknamed 'Striking the blacks' and 'Singing the reds', were so successful that they were reported widely in the national press, and many 'red song' festivals were organised in other places. However, the anti-triad campaign remains the city's unique accomplishment. The latest campaign is not compulsory, the Chongqing Evening News quoted the municipal authorities as saying. Students will not earn academic credits from the exercise, and it will not be a prerequisite for graduation. However, the authorities said, steps will be taken to ensure that students do take part. A municipal education commission official says some 5,000 students took part in a pilot project in August in local government services and state-owned enterprises. 'All participants reported great benefit,' the official said. Work done in the programme - called social practice - will be paid for by the government at Chongqing's minimum wage rate. In rural social practice, officials said, students would be encouraged to live and work in the reservoir areas near the Three Gorges Dam and in poor mountainous and ethnic communities to experience the hardships of people living in the countryside.