Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi may have reached out to the economic community with his maiden speech to a business forum on Thursday morning. But other players, who shape opinions in the new economy, including the international and social media, were not quite impressed.
Mr. Gandhi’s speech was live-tweeted, sparked off instant reactions, and was reported and analysed extensively on media blogs through the day — making him a trending topic on Twitter.
The running theme of the criticism was that Mr. Gandhi had offered little by way of solutions, and glossed over the fact that Congress was behaving more like the Opposition rather than a party which had been at the helm of power.
@raziv007 tweeted, “Who stopped Rahul to implement his vision? India is under Congress rule frm last 9 years, and 50 years since Independence.” In a reference to the somewhat unstructured answers to questions from the floor, @aurbolo said, “Somebody asked Rahul Gandhi abt water problem in India and he explained the political structure in India. A teacher would have given him zero.” Many online critics were sympathisers of the principal Opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has an edge on social media platforms.
But there were some who were impressed with the Congress scion’s candour and emphasis on devolving power. Senior journalist Jyoti Malhotra tweeted, “#RahulGandhi pouring his heart out at CII; We need to listen to this young man.” @yksingh26 commented, “Rahul Gandhi bats for power to people and Modi acts to take power away from people …. dilutes Lokayukta.”
Blogs on international media platforms were more critical. The Banyan of the pro-market Economist magazine noted that Mr. Gandhi seemed “woefully ill-prepared”; he “offered a range of thoughts, some earnest, many well-meaning, some apparently irrelevant and some waffle.” Referring to Mr. Gandhi’s description of India as a complex place in opposition to China as a “simplistic place,” it said that the Congress leader was the one “who sounded rather simplistic about China,” and suggested a trip there would do him good. Mr. Gandhi has visited Beijing in the past.
The India Real Time blog of Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said that if the speech was any guide, the Congress party’s hopes of re-election next year were “built on very flimsy foundations.”
“Mr. Gandhi took two questions from the floor — something he rarely does — but his meandering answers did little to provide solutions.” A piece on The India Ink blog of New York Times noted the Congress scion’s use of “unusual metaphors and never-before-heard parables.”