Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is not any more the outsider that he seems to be, even till a few months ago. He delivered the valedictory address at the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) annual general meeting on Saturday from a prepared text which seems to have been based on bureaucratic input at the highest level.
Some of the points in the speech were those flagged by cabinet secretary Ajit Kumar Seth about the number of nearly 300 – the actual figure is 287 – cleared by the cabinet committee on investment, and the need to increase the share of manufacturing to 25% of the GDP in his interaction with the captains of industry at the executive meeting of the Ficci on Friday. .
This time he was not the peripatetic speaker he was at the CII function last year. He stood at the lectern and he had a written text before. After the function, the booklet of the text of the speech was promptly distributed.
He agreed that the election results have been bad and described them in the business lingo :
“Let me begin by acknowledging that my last quarter results have not exactly been resounding. I now know how it feels when you have to go to AGMs with bad news.”
He argued the case for the government with much conviction. He said, “This government has done more than any other government to combat corruption,” and cited the example of RTI as the most powerful weapon to fight corruption.
It almost seemed that he was speaking for PM Manmohan Singh when expressed concern over high inflation and stated with authority, “ Beating inflation is our top priority.”
This is then a new Rahul, a Rahul who has been integrated infromally into the party and governmental systems, and his speech is an eloquent indication of his new role.