New Delhi: Industrialist Rahul Bajaj Saturday said that people in India are fearful of speaking against the Narendra Modi government and said he wasn’t certain if the government can accept criticism in the right spirit.
In his short address at The Economic Times’ ET Awards 2019 in Mumbai, which had Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on the stage, Bajaj said in a shaky, broken voice, that there was freedom to abuse anyone in the government during former PM Manmohan Singh’s tenure, but in the present time, industrialists cannot openly criticise the Modi government.
“During UPA 2, we could abuse anyone. You are doing good work, but if we want to openly criticise you, there is no confidence you will appreciate that. I may be wrong but everyone feels that,” Bajaj said.
Shah, who is also the BJP president, responded to Bajaj’s remark. “Let me say this clearly, no one needs to fear.”
Industrialist Rahul Bajaj: UPA government mein kisi ko bhi gaali de sakte the. Aapke khilaaf bolne se log darte hain. Aap kaam kar rahen hain, toh phir logon ko bolne kee azadi kyu nahi. #ETAwards
— Rachita Prasad (@rachitaprasadET) November 30, 2019
Bajaj then mentioned Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur, who recently raised a storm in Parliament with her remark on M.K. Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, highlighting that she won with the support of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. “Is there a doubt who shot Gandhi… I don’t know.”
Bajaj also referred to PM Modi’s reaction to Pragya Thakur’s earlier reference to Godse as a ‘deshbhakt’ in May, saying “the prime minister had said it would be very difficult for him to forgive her.” “But she was brought into the consultive committee (on defence) later,” he said.
Shah said that “we condemn what Pragya Thakur had said.”
Bajaj’s comments came a day after Manmohan Singh also said that there was a climate of fear and harassment that was “stifling economic activity”.
“Between 2004 and 2014, certain incidents occurred. It will become clear to you if you just look at the finance figures from the banking sector,” Shah said at the event.