Mumbai: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh for what he termed as their "rigid thinking" which hampers creativity and start-ups in the country.
Interacting with B-school students of the prestigious Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) in Mumbai, Gandhi said the BJP-RSS have "a clear idea of what the world should be" according to their viewpoint.
"When you are intolerant, you curb the movement of ideas... India needs openness, flexibility... You can't have start-ups and be intolerant at the same time," Gandhi said.
Citing examples, he said the Congress party brought and encouraged a culture of tolerance in the country, people were free to discuss ideas which ultimately culminated in the freedom movement.
Clad in casual jeans and tee-shirt, Gandhi urged the students not to put "labels on people, industry or things, as labels are human inventions" and stifle growth.
Hitting out at the ruling BJP-led NDA's policies, the Congress leader said India is essentially an agrarian economy, but the present government was not doing enough for the farmers.
"We have been a traditional agri-economy, but we have made a smooth transition from agri to IT and knowledge economy now. A few years ago, we had launched National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), it was strongly resisted, but now it contributes in a large measure to the nine percent growth as it was injecting cash into rural economy and it built a rural infrastructure," Gandhi pointed out.
Though Indian farms are now divided and not capable of sustaining families, he said agriculture was not a problem for the farmers, but for the businessmen, industrialists, etc.
"The UPA had strategy of supporting farmers, but the present government has a different focus which is not on farmers or agriculture... They tried to stop NREGA and other UPA policies, but we put pressure on them," he said.
Replying to a question on China, Gandhi said the Asian Communist giant is more powerful and economically stronger, but it grabs and pulls you as it is a centralised economy.
On the other hand, India's power is never about the military, but about ideas with which we make the other person turn around to our perspective -- "India grabs you, but you never feel it."
But, he said for all its growth, now at 11 percent, China paid a price with many people dying, but not in India with a 9 percent growth -- "We are a soft power... and not a threat to the world."
To a query on the start-up hype, Gandhi said any start-up requires a whole support system to allow an entrepreneur to grow, with access to finance, freedom from government regulations, infrastructure, etc.
"That's why it's considered easier to launch start-ups in states like Maharashtra or Karnataka, but businesses face a huge problem in Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, though some of the most entrepreneurial people come from there," Gandhi said.