Industrialist and Bajaj Group Chairperson Rahul Bajaj raised concerns on Saturday over people’s fear when it comes to criticising the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre, The Indian Express reported. The businessman directed the questions to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal at The Economic Times’ ET Awards 2019 event in Mumbai.
“During UPA-II [second term of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance], we could abuse anyone,” Bajaj said. “You are doing good work, but if we want to openly criticise you, [but] there is no confidence you will appreciate that. I may be wrong but everyone feels that.” Bajaj noted that no one else from the business community would raise this matter.
Several industrialists, including Reliance Industries Limited Chief Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla Group Chairperson Kumar Mangalam Nirla, and Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal attended the event.
Bajaj also highlighted the alleged remarks of BJP MP from Bhopal Pragya Singh Thakur in the Lok Sabha on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, and said that she had been included in a defence panel despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that he would not be able to forgive her.
Thakur on Friday apologised in the Lok Sabha for her controversial remarks, adding that she did not “call Nathuram Godse a ‘deshbhakt’”. She said that her statement had been “distorted”, but offered an apology if she had hurt anyone’s feelings.
The industrialist on Saturday said that instances of mob lynchings in the country had created an intolerant environment. “We don’t want to say certain things but we see that until now no one has been convicted,” he said.
Shah said that there was no need for anyone to be afraid, and said that if such a situation existed then the administration would work towards improving it, The Print reported. The home minister added that the government was being run in a transparent manner and that it was not worried about opposition.
The minister said that senior BJP leaders had condemned Thakur’s statements and that neither the government nor the saffron party supported what the MP had said. Addressing the matter of lynchings, Shah said that they occurred in the past as well but had reduced now. He claimed that the media did not report on lynching cases where the punishment has been doled out to the accused.
Bajaj voiced his concerns a day after the Centre released the Gross Domestic Product figures for the July-September quarter, which contracted to 4.5%. This was the slowest growth rate in more than six years, and the sixth straight quarter of slowdown.
Hours after the numbers were released, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said he was deeply worried about the current state of the Indian economy. “We need to change current climate in our society from one of fear to one of confidence for our economy to start growing at 8% per annum,” he had said. The government has repeatedly denied the economy is in recession.