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Apr 05, 2013 at 08:19am IST

Rahul has a vision, says Cong while BJP claims Modi offers India more

New Delhi: The Congress and the BJP are battling over Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's address to India Inc. While the Congress said that he has given people hope, the BJP said that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi offers much more to the people of India.

Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Saredesai, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said that Rahul has got the implicit solution. "Rahul has understood the essential point that whatever may have been India's achievements unless you empower one billion people of India to rule themselves, you can't progress. And that's why the example of beehive is an excellent one. Any individual bee is at mercy of everyone else but a gang of bees are the most discipline unit. Therefore he has got it right. Since he has specifically mentioned panchayati system, I think he has arrived in his first days as the Vice President of the party and therefore the hope."

ALSO SEE My becoming PM irrelevant, says Rahul even as Modi pitches for post

Meanwhile, BJP leader Piyush Goel said that the Congress scion doesn't understand compassion. "Rahul doesn't understand the meaning of compassion. Compassion means to have sympathy and to have pity. All that he has to offer is pity. When they talk about this compassion, I think what Modi offers is action on ground. To turn faith of a billion of Indians into a bright future.. into a prosperous future."

Humour and anecdotes marked Rahul's first structured interaction with India Inc on Thursday at the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) annual general meeting during which the Congress Vice President also made a brief mention of the speculation surrounding his marriage plans. The 42-year old Congress leader made no bones about his dislike for frequent questions about when he was getting married, as he said such talks are "irrelevant".

Hours later Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi hinted at his interest in the high post when he said in Gandhinagar, that he had repaid the debt of Gujarat and now people wanted him to repay India's debt. "Log kah rahe hain Narendra Modi ne Gujarat ka karz chuka diya hai ab Hindustan ka karz chukane ko kah rahe hain (People are saying that I have repaid the debt of Gujarat and they are now asking me to repay the debt owned to India)," Modi said.

Knocking the audience off with his self-deprecating humour, on the other hand, Rahul expressed his disinterest to be in the race for the top post. "These are irrelevant questions. It's all smoke. I got press guys asking when are you getting married. Somebody else saying, boss, when are you going to be the Prime Minister. Somebody saying, no you are are not going to be PM, somebody say may be you will be PM," Rahul said as the audience, comprised of India's business tycoons, laughed and cheered on.

Describing his advent into politics as "an accident of fate" and "DNA" linkage with a particular family, Rahul said, "I am not a hard-nosed politician... I don't want to become one." He sought to dispel the notion that "one person charging on a horse" would fix all the problems of the country. "No, it is not like that," he added.

However, even as the BJP flayed Rahul's speech as "confusion confounded" and said that it was reflective of "Modi phobia", the Congress was quick to brush aside any Rahul-Modi comparison.

"With one single appearance in public today, Rahulji has shown that nobody can be compared with him... Rahulji's vision and Rahulji's ideas, I don't think Modi or anybody can come nearer to that and comparisons are done by someone who is interested in propping up Modi," PC Chacko said.

However, Rahul's speech was devoid of specifics on ways to bring the Indian economy back on the growth path, tackling inflation, price rise, kickstarting industrial growth, reviving the agricultural sector and controlling the ballooning fiscal deficit.