Thursday, April 04, 2013

Rahul, Jaitley speak at CII, reveal different styles

New Delhi: It was not Rahul Gandhi versus Narendra Modi at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual general meeting. It was not even Rahul Gandhi versus Arun Jaitley. But the two speeches delivered by the two, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, provided a glimpse of their political approaches. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi spoke in the morning to a packed audience at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual general meeting on Thursday morning, and leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley in the valedictory function in the afternoon. The two speeches were in stark contrast to each other. What they had in common was a certain self-deprecatory tone. Gandhi said that he was not a hard-nosed politician though he was getting there, and that he did not really like being a hard-nosed politician. Jaitley said that he was being asked to come for the valedictory function because his party was in the opposition and hoped that the situation would change next year. Gandhi showed that he had sense of irony when he narrated how he cited president John Kennedy's statement than when with the rising tide all the boats rise, and the reply of a poor Uttar Pradesh village woman, “ Rahul Bhiya, hamare paas to naav hi nahin hai (Brother Rahul, We do not have a boat)”. There was a curious reaction from the audience – most of them from the business sector – to Congress vice-president's Rahul Gandhi's speech at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) annual general meeting on Thursday morning. “It was good. I liked it,” was the genuine and natural reaction from many. The hard-nosed political reporters found it desultory, lacking in clarity. BJP's chief spokesman Prakash Javdekar said that it was “confusion worse confounded”. BJP's deputy leader in Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad speaking at the CII that followed Gandhi's made the snide remark that he (Gandhi) wanted to empower the “pradhans” of the villages while the country's “pradhan” (prime minister Manmohan Singh was disempowered. What was unusual about Gandhi's speech was that he was speaking in a broader framework of vision and values, which sounded vague and in some ways woolly as well. But he was not afraid to expose his vulnerable side. At one point in the interactive session he said “ I want to empower the billion plus voices,” and then corrected himself and said, “I want to help the billion plus voices to be heard”. Jaitley's speech on the other was the structured lawyer's argument where he took on the prime minister's speech. He said that the leader must have the authority and the final word to take critical decisions, and that was lacking in this government and with this prime minister. He said the prime minister knew much better than him what went wrong with the economy but he did not have the authority to take the decisions he needed to take. Both Gandhi and Jaitley declared the pro-business friendly attitude of their respective parties. “My party has always been known to be pro-business and industry,” said Jaitley. Gandhi was a little more idealistic and expansive when he concluded his speech saying: “ I’ve come here because I believe in you. I believe that this country cannot move forward without you. I have come here because I want to forge a partnership with you. A long-term partnership to take this country forward. Let us work together to build this brave, empowered new India.” Jaitley was sure that his party would be in power. Gandhi did not refer to it.

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