Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi addressed top industrialists at a gathering of the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi on Thursday.
Amid suspense over who would be the Congress' next Prime Ministerial candidate, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday dubbed as "irrelevant" and "all smoke" the debate on the issue as he insisted that no individual can fix all the complex problems of the nation.
Gandhi, who has been reluctant to join the government, described his advent into politics as "an accident of fate" and "DNA" linkage with a particular family.
Rahul Gandhi's idea of 21st century India is that of a "beehive." Here's what he had to say:
Addressing top industrialists in the audience he recalled conversations from his college days wherein people used to ask “Do you have elephants on the road?” Nobody is saying that today. And a huge part of that is because of you." He said this with much appreciation for how India's infrastructure has come up.
Rubbishing speculation that he may be the prime ministerial candidate in the next parliamentary election, Rahul Gandhi said "It is all smoke. The only relevant question in this country is how can we give our people voice. It is not important what Rahul Gandhi thinks, its important what a billion Indians think."
India, according to him, believes in "the man who comes in on a horse, the sun in the background, a billion people waiting, and he is going to fix everything."
"China is referred to as the 'dragon' and India as an 'elephant'. But we are not an elephant, we are a 'beehive', " he said.
He confessed his status is "an accident of fate ... I happen to come from a chain of people." His mother Sonia Gandhi, president of Congress, is the only senior person to him.
At one point, searching the papers from which he was reading he said "I have lost it." A little later, he accepted that he may bald soon.
Here's how his speech was received:
S Gopalakrishnan, CII president-designate: This is his first engagement with the business community and he met the industry's expectation. It was a very good interaction. It sets the tone for future interaction. He spoke very broadly about various issues. I see this as a better collaboration between industry and government.
Rahul Bajaj, Bajaj Group chairman: People say he doesn't have any experience and he has not spoken to people. I'm impressed on his frankness and his frankness of ideas. He talked about the work of MPs and MLAs. He rightly said that a team needs a good leader for doing things right.
Adi Godrej, president of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII): He was very clear. He was invited here to speak about his views on the future of the country, his views on the long term, and not about economy. We've invited the Prime Minister, we've invited Cabinet minister, we've invited Secretaries to the government and many other people, say state chief ministers for their views on the economy. But Rahul Gandhi was requested to address the plenary session on his general views which he did in a superb manner. And I think it was very well accepted by the audience.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Bharti Airtel chairman: It was an outstanding speech... He understood importance of technology and inclusion, which gives us hope as future leader.
Prakash Javadekar, BJP Spokesperson: It was confusion confounded. It was also a lacklustre speech without any direction or clarity. And Modiphobia was also clearly visible. Rahul's speech reflected that he lives in his own world," he said, adding, "A confused leader presented his confused ideology which nobody could understand."
Anjali Verma, economist at PhillipCapital: He wants to change the political system and how it works which is an interesting thought. But the important part is execution about which he is vague or does not yet have answers.