Waffler Gandhi

Waffler Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi’s first interaction with India’s corporate leaders at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) conclave was disappointing to say the least. Industry leaders flocked to the meeting hoping to gain insights into the economic agenda and roadmap for economic growth of a possible future prime minister. What they got, however, was a 75-minute speech that was weak in substance and specifics, which failed to throw light on how he proposes to revive the Indian economy.

The Congress vice president rightly prioritised inclusive growth, possibly taking a dig at the exclusive brand of politics and pro-rich growth model that BJP leader and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has been touting in his speeches in recent months. But Rahul failed to articulate on how he hoped to achieve this laudable goal.

After all, the UPA government, for all its rhetorical claims of being a party that is committed to pursuing the interests of the aam admi, has failed to either keep up the growth rate or improve the lot of the common man. There has been considerable speculation over the differences between the Congress party leadership and the UPA government on the latter’s economic policies.

Where does Rahul stand in this debate? What are his views on the second generation reforms the UPA government has introduced, its land acquisition policies, Foreign Direct Investment in retail sector and so on?  What are his solutions for corruption and crony capitalism that have eaten into the vitals of India’s polity, economy and society? Rahul was silent on all these issues.

The CII meet provided Rahul with a big stage for outlining his views on the economy before the country. Sadly, he blew the opportunity. His speech was rambling. He seemed intent on using the speech to project a casual image; note the informal style in which he delivered the speech. However, connecting with India’s masses and the youth requires more than image.

Rahul has been in politics for close to a decade now. He cannot claim any longer to be discovering India and its people or hide behind the argument that he is still learning the ropes. If statements issued by his party leaders are anything to go by, notwithstanding his own stated reticence, he is likely to be the Congress prime ministerial candidate in 2014. In that case, voters need to know what his agenda and plans for India are. The Gandhi surname alone will not win him votes.

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