NEW DELHI: Industrialist and Bajaj Group chairperson Rahul Bajaj Saturday said that there is an atmosphere of fear in the country and people are afraid to criticize the ruling Modi-led BJP government because they are not sure that their criticism will be appreciated in the right spirit, The Indian Express reported.
Amit Shah questioned by Rahul Bajaj
Addressing the audience at The Economic Times’ ET Awards 2019, Mr. Bajaj in a shaky, broken voice directed the questions to Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who were on stage.
“Nobody from our industrialist friends will speak, I will say openly… An environment will have to be created… When UPA II was in power, we could criticise anyone… You (the government) are doing good work, but despite that we don’t have the confidence that you will appreciate if we criticise you openly (Aap achchha kaam kar rahe hain, uske baad bhi, hum aapko criticise openly karein, confidence nahin hai ki you will appreciate),” Bajaj said.
Several top industrialists including RIL CMD Mukesh Ambani, Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, and Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal were also present at the gathering.
“Intolerance Ki Hawaa”
The event also highlighted the discussion on lynchings, with the veteran industrialist pointing out “intolerance ki hawaa.”
“Lynchings create a hawaa, intolerance ki hawaa hai, hum darte hain… kuchh cheezon ko hum bolna nahin chahte hain par dekhte hain ki koi convict hi nahin hua abhi tak (Lynchings create an environment of intolerance and we are afraid. We see that till now, no one has been convicted)”.
Climate of fear
Bajaj’s comments came a day after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that there was “a palpable climate of fear” and harassment that was “stifling economic activity”.
Speaking at the National Economy Conclave, Mr. Singh said, “Many industrialists tell me they live in fear of harassment by government authorities… Entrepreneurs are hesitant to put up fresh projects, for fear of failure attributed to ulterior motives,” Singh said.
Bajaj also mentioned Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur whose alleged remarks raised a storm in Parliament. “Is there a doubt who shot Gandhi… I don’t know.”
Shah responded to Bajaj’s contention saying that there was no need to fear and said:
“Phir bhi aap jo keh rahe hain ki ek atmosphere banaa hai, hamein bhi atmosphere ko sudhaarne ka prayaas karna padega… but main itna zaroor kehna chaahta hoon ki kissi ko darne ki koi zaroorat nahi hai… Na koi daraana chaahta hai… Na kuchh aisa karaa hai jiske khilaaf koi bole to sarkar ko chinta hai… Most transparent way mein ye government chali hai, aur hamein kissi bhi prakaar ke virodh ka koi dar nahin hai, aur koi [virodh] karega bhi to uske merits dekh kar hum apne aap ko improve karne ka prayaas karenge (If you say there is a certain kind of atmosphere, we will have to make efforts to improve it. But I would like to point out that there is no need for anybody to be afraid… No one wants to scare… and we have done nothing to be concerned about any criticism… The government has run in the most transparent way, and we have no fear of any kind of opposition. If anyone criticises us, we will look at the merit of the same and make efforts to improve ourselves),” Shah said.