Lucknow: The opposition has relentlessly attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly having close ties with big industrialists of the country. Many like Congress President Rahul Gandhi have even accused him of working at their behest. On Sunday, PM Modi - for the first time - landed a strong counter punch and said that while there is nothing wrong in meeting businessmen in full public view, many of his political rivals who are now crying foul have done so behind closed doors.
Claiming he has nothing to hide, PM Modi said that clean policies and an honest vision mean he can be seen with anyone without any fear. "We are not the ones who are scared of standing next to industrialists," he said. "You can stand next to anyone if your intentions are clear and good."
PM Modi then took a jibe at leaders of rival parties. "People who don't meet industrialists in public but do everything behind curtains remain scared." He even gave an example of Mahatma Gandhi to drive in his point. "Gandhiji's (Father of the Nation) intentions were so pure that he never hesitated in staying with Birla family. Just as much as the labour of a farmer, an artisan, a banker, a government employee or a labourer goes into the making of the nation, the efforts of industrialists too have a role in nation building. Should we insult them, call them thieves and robbers? Is this the way?"
The Prime Minister then said that economic offenders have no option now but to either flee the country or face jail terms - something that he claimed never happened before. He would go on to point at former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh who was a member in the audience and said that he could give 'details of such people and their deals.'
India is proud of our industry and industrialists. They contribute greatly to national growth.
Some people publicly abuse industrialists but privately expect industrialists to kowtow in front of them.
I am happy to engage with industry and work with them for India’s prosperity. pic.twitter.com/COh7Htmjyq
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 29, 2018
In the past, PM Modi has been attacked on several occasions for being seen with influential industrialists and businessmen. The most scathing attack came when opposition parties highlighted a photo from Davos in which he was in the same frame as fugitive diamondtaire Nirav Modi. A month later, the PNB scam broke out and Nirav has been absconding since.
PM Modi and his government has also been accused of having a soft approach towards bringing back other economic offenders who have fled the country like Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Jatin Mehta.
Even in the aftermath of demonetisation, rivals had said that the government had already informed influential people - including industry tycoons and business magnets - of banning Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denominations before making an official announcement. It is a charge that has not been proven yet.