Rahul Gandhi – The Congress Honey Trap

Published: Monday, Apr 08,2013, 20:37 IST
rahul gandhi speech, rahul gandhi as PM, #feku, RaGa

India is a land of milk and honey. Many have craved a taste of that honey, or, more specifically, the wealth, power and riches that it brings. To seduce the Indian, the  Congress Party appointed their baby-faced soap star, Mr Rahul Gandhi, as their Vice President. With no expense spared,  propaganda posters and accessory razzmatazz have accompanied his every step towards the throne of India. After all, India will soon be in the grip of election fever, and every vote may count.

The Congress elite's honeycomb has been built, in part, with the money stored in the waxy, hexagonal cells of some Swiss banks. While drones have worked tirelessly in the background, a sweet-smelling canopy of roses has sought to provide a little political romance for India.

Congress has been humming the same tune to a bored Indian audience for sometime now. Yet the buzz created by propaganda posters in January 2013 has returned to sting them as social media users swarmed into action. Despite all the pomp and ceremony, Congress has been unsuccessful in persuading the public that Rahul Gandhi could ever become a credible leader.

The failures of the Plastic Prince have been detailed previously on IBTL.

The Twitterati  hummed into life on  the 1st April 2013  [April Fools' Day], dubbing it  #Rahul's Day. Matters were made worse when, on the 4 April 2013, Rahul Gandhi gave a speech to industrialists at a gathering of the CII [Confederation of Indian Industry]. The entire speech is available here. It is well worth a read, if only for its sheer entrainment and cringe-worthy value.

On a brief reading, many will note that it is over-sentimental, immature, unconstructive and poorly drafted. The speech was filled with trips down memory lane which, unsurprisingly, interested nobody but Mr Gandhi. If you don't feel ready for the full-fat, unrestrained twaddle of the entire speech, the India Times summarised the relevant highlights here.

As an example of the Plastic Prince's style, in his first sentence, he says :

It’s an honour for me to be here today. And I would like to begin by telling you why it’s an honour for me”

Notice how he repeats the same sentiments, reminding you of an old broken record. He then goes on to say:

“We have built structures that are allowing this energy to rise, to explode”


We then have the same broke record here:

“So I would like to thank you and I would like to tell you that it’s big honour for me to be here addressing you”

We get it Mr Gandhi – you are honoured. I could go through the speech and dissect each and every section, but I decided to obtain the expert advice of Mr Kapil Dudakia, a leading advisor based in the UK, on these important matters of public concern. I asked him what his primary thoughts were on this important speech. This is what he had to say.

“So we have it that the emerging reluctant leader from the loins of Indira Gandhi might well now wish to enter the political drama and take the lead role as Prime Minister.  In so doing his speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry is bound to be seen as significant.  You can’t lead a country if you cannot energise the industries that will be required for nation building”

On the quality of speech writing, everyone was astounded that Congress, with all its funds, could not locate a decent speech writer. Mr Dudakia echoes a number of concerns raised by the social media :-

“My immediate reaction to Rahul’s speech is that he really does need a trusted speech writer. Or at least his right hand (wo)man should have the guts, intelligence and a sense of the public mood so that the advice given to him is firm and fair. The following are a few points that come to mind where the impression given is of a person who is confused and not on song with his own core being”

“I was amazed when he said, ‘China is a dragon. India is called an elephant, but we're not an elephant, we're a beehive’, given that the whole nation was bound to poke fun by saying his mother must then be the Queen Bee.  By not following the train of thought all the way to its logical conclusion, a sound bite might seem great until it unfolds in the media.  Now the only thing people remember in a joking way is something about his mother being the Queen Bee.  And where there is a Queen Bee - everyone else is but a worker purely in the service of that Queen.  It’s what we call in the UK, an own goal”

“Regarding business he went on to say, 'When I read papers, the news, the noise stresses me out.  It drives foreigners crazy. They ask me why are Indians complaining all the time. India is complex. The West looks at us and says give us simple answers, but we say we can't because our environment is complex.'

“In my view such a statement sends a negative view back to potential investors and business folk outside of India.  It is the duty of the Government to create policies and institutions such that they rise up and face the emerging challenges.  It is the duty of the Government to address these issues – not make excuses or make it look as if it’s someone else’s fault. After all it is his Government that has been in power – so what he should concentrate on are the practical things they have done or will do to successfully attract FDI. Instead a speech with lame excuses does not sit well with potential investors abroad”

India has always been a super power. It has historically chosen not to exercise that power in a negative way. So when Rahul says,

"India was an energy, a force which came from rivers Yamuna, Ganga and Saraswati."

Why is it that on his door step under his watch he has allowed for Yamunaji to be so exploited and tarnished? The fabric of the nation, its historical legacy and pride has to be protected by Government.  What has the Indian Government done in this regard? When I visit places like France and Italy I see nations who have spent money in protecting their cultural riches. Contrast that with the debilitated state of our historical structures.  Where is the nations' pride when you witness the mass destruction of its majestic past by the negligence of Governments who have done so little to protect it?

“The limiting factor for India is its infrastructure, health care, education, sanitation and power. On infrastructure he said, ‘The government cannot build infrastructure alone. We need your (the industry's) help’.  He is totally correct, but it has to be followed by what the Government will do to make life easier for industry to become an active partner in nation building. It is useless if each time an entity wants to do something they are tied up in bureaucratic red tape, and as we have learnt recently – all too often also in corrupt practices. In contrast we see that in Gujarat, a state that had lost its way some 10 years ago, it has found new direction.  It has managed to break the cycle of repulsing FDI to the extent that the corporate sector from around the world line up to meet the CM and lend their support in developing the state. If it can be done at the state level, can you imagine what is possible if that same energy, vision and determination is translated at the national level?

“He cannot escape the track record of the incumbent Government since he is part of that machinery.  He cannot abdicate his responsibility of why such overt corrupt practices have not been investigated quickly and forcefully – and we contrast this with the zeal with which CM Modi ji has been hounded over the past decade. Playing politics is a favourite pass time of the shrewd politician, but with that comes the drawback that you will also be judged by the same litmus test. In the age of social media, the Internet, mobile computing and accessible communications – the masses cannot be hoodwinked any longer so easily.  The truth has a way of coming out, and in today’s era it will do so faster and with a greater vengeance than it has in the past.  Rahul has to take on board the total reformation of Congress so that the baggage of the past can be shed and a new direction of travel is found that resonates with the India of tomorrow.  Did Rahul come across as that entity who can take India to the next stage of its development?  On the evidence of the speech and past performance - one can only but conclude, not yet”

So went the honest critique of an experienced advisor from England. In short,  Mr Gandhi's first foray in presenting his ideas to the business community was a spectacular flop. Time magazine attempted to bite their lip and write a balanced account. They quipped

“Riffing off John F. Kennedy’s line that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” Gandhi said: “A rising tide doesn’t raise people who don’t have a boat. We have to help build the boat for them. It’s not good enough to raise the tide. We have to give them the basic infrastructure to rise with the tide.” It didn’t end there. A few minutes later, when talking about women in his constituency, he went on to say: “They told me they have no boats…They are not only building our boats, they are the waves.”

Failing to resist one last dig at the end, the wrote

What Gandhi has yet to show is whether he is the man who has the practical acumen to get all of the beehive onto the boat. Or something like that.”

The response from the opposition party was :-

“It was confusion confounded,” Prakash Javadekar, a member of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said at a news conference. “It was a lackluster speech without any direction or clarity.”

The Twitterati were unimpressed, too, frantically beating their tiny virtual wings in their frenzy. Before long hashtag #PappuCII was trending, where Mr Gandhi was mocked and ridiculed. Twitter buzzed with razor sharp comments.

Sandeep @moderateright, commenting on the rivalry between Gandhi and opposition candidate Narendra Modi stated :-

“Modi has forced Rahul to speak for first time in 9 yrs. Given his IQ, the more Rahul speaks the more he will be mocked. Well played Mr Modi”

The Telegraph UK weighed in politely criticising the failed “Beehive speech”.

As the Economist wished that Rahul Gandhi had not opened his mouth that day, the  stock exchange, BSE Sensex dropped 300 points , the largest drop since February 2012.

Reuters wrote

‘Rahul Gandhi bemuses with 'beehive' speech to India” while advising the world that ‘Pappu is a derogatory colloquial Hindi word meaning "dumb kid".

Thanks Reuters. The west can always rely on you to translate Indian wit.

The Wall Street Journal’s India blog wrote, ‘Rahul Gandhi Speech hits some dud notes’ and called Gandhi’s attempts to re-enact an encounter with who he said was the “secretary of the Chinese prime minister” comic. “This was clearly preplanned theater aimed to show Mr. Gandhi’s lighter side, but it was also unintentionally comic.”

In the meantime, Gujarat's Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who is the opposition party's candidate for the next election, eloquently countered Rahul Gandhi and struck a chord with India.  He said

"I am shocked to hear Congress leaders think of India in such a manner. For the Congress, India can be a beehive, but for us our country is our mother," Mr Modi said at a  function in Ahmedabad on the 33rd foundation day of the BJP  [Times of India] [Highlights of his Speech] The Twitterati were complimentary about this speech, demonstrating that Mr Modi understands the art of persuasion and constructive thinking. He also has the vision to lead India into a better future.

In the meantime, the Queen Bee and her hive of drones play the same broken record many times over, failing to grasp the concept that India needs a new vision, a new hope and a better future. As the days go by, it is becoming more and more doubtful whether Congress can lead the people. Their current presentation demonstrates that they are out of touch with the sentiments of the Indian public. 


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