Free Press Journal

Industrialists play pivotal role, not afraid of being seen with them: PM Narendra Modi


Lucknow: PM Modi was seen chuckling when Congress president Rahul Gandhi was firing on all cylinders in the Lok Sabha during the no-trust vote. But the vote over, the PM is making it a point to clarify his position on most points of contention.

On Saturday, referring to Rahul Gandhi’s insinuation that he was a ‘collaborator’ in corruption, the PM had said at a function in Lucknow that he was honoured to be a ‘bhagidar’ in the problems of the poor. On Sunday, he hit back at critics who have questioned his perceived proximity to corporates and said that unlike “some people” he was “not afraid of” publicly standing beside industrialists and business magnates because his intentions were “noble”. Even Mahatma Gandhi had done the same and was known for his proximity to the Birla family, Modi said, putting himself in the same category as the Father of the Nation.

He also attacked the Opposition for calling industrialists ‘chor and looterey’ and said they too contribute to nation building. The Opposition has been targeting Modi over his picture at Davos economic forum in January this year with fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who is at the centre of a multi-thousand crore Punjab National Bank scam besides the Prime Minister’s perceived closeness to Mehul Choksi, whom he once publicly addressed as “Mehul bhai”.

The opposition has also been critical of Modi government’s inaction in the matters of extradition of Vijay Mallya and Lalit Modi, who slipped out of the country after being accused of committing huge financial frauds. Launching a counter attack on the opposition, Modi added, “You will never see them in a photograph with industrialists but the latter have bowed before them at their residences. ‘‘They only meet behind closed curtains,” he pointed out.

Pointing at former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, who was in the audience, Modi said that Singh can give details of many such people who prefer to meet industrialists behind closed doors.  “Do people not know who is flying in whose plane?” Modi demanded with a sarcastic smile. Modi also lauded efforts of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in creating an investment-friendly environment in UP. He was speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of projects worth Rs 60,000 crore at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Lucknow. Addressing the gathering, PM Modi said, “I have been the chief minister of a state for a long time. I have come from a state that is known for its industrial activity. The investment of Rs 60,000 is not a small thing. The government of UP has done an unimaginable job. I know the problems related to investments, yet, all this was done in just five months, this is huge success.”