Gandhi Fails to Impress in TV Interview Debut

January 27, 2014, 11:39 PM

Gandhi Fails to Impress in TV Interview Debut

NIHARIKA MANDHANA

In the first extended television interview of his political career on Monday night, Rahul Gandhi probably didn’t win many converts.

Fielding sharp questions from TV anchor Arnab Goswami, Mr. Gandhi, who is now leading the electoral charge of India’s ruling Congress party, offered nary a sound bite. He avoided passionate responses and wasn’t goaded into attacking his main adversary, opposition leader Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Instead, Mr. Gandhi struck a wonky tone, articulating what he said was a long-term agenda to revamp his own party and India’s political system, which he called closed and predatory, doing too little to help the hundreds of millions of poor in the world’s second-most-populous country.

Mr. Gandhi, the fourth generation scion of the Nehru Gandhi family, said he disliked the widespread prevalence of dynastic politics in India. On his own position of privilege, Mr. Gandhi said he hadn’t chosen to be born in India’s most politically powerful family, but was now faced with a choice, he said, between walking away and sticking around to drive change.

Mr. Gandhi brushed aside as “superficial” questions about recent corruption scandals or how he would lead his party to victory in the forthcoming general elections, which are due by May. He said repeatedly his party would win the elections, but added that he wasn’t afraid of defeat.

“What I was scared of,I lost,” he said, referring to the assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and his father Rajiv Gandhi. “I’m not scared of anything,”

Mr. Gandhi said he would remain single-minded in his effort to change Indian politics. He repeatedly emphasized the need to transform the way candidates are picked to fight elections, the concentration of political power in a few hands and barriers to the empowerment of women.

“He laid out a 20 year plan to change politics, but didn’t quite spell out how he would do it or what his party would do in the interim,” said Ashok Malik, a Delhi-based political analyst.

When asked specific questions, Mr. Gandhi sought to draw the conversation back to what he saw as the fundamental questions. Mr. Gandhi complained that he hadn’t been asked about “how we will build this country or how we will empower our youngsters.”

Siddharth Varadarajan, an analyst, said in a televised interview that Mr. Gandhi had failed to turn his call for change into a concrete plan addressing real political questions.

“He is unwilling to engage the politics today,” Mr. Varadarajan said.

Mr. Gandhi didn’t offer his opinion of Narendra Modi, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate. He accused Mr. Modi’s government of “abetting and pushing” deadly riots in Gujarat in 2002, but didn’t offer specifics.

On several questions on a series of corruption allegations involving his party’s governments and leaders in the last decade, Mr. Malik said he seemed out of his depth.

“But then, when you’re going to be asked about 10 years of a government’s time in office and 60 years of your party’s work, you can’t be entirely prepared,” Mr. Malik said

 

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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