A day after Bajaj Group chairperson Rahul Bajaj pointedly asked Home Minister Amit Shah why were senior BJP leaders so averse to criticism, a section of Union Ministers and saffron party leaders have reacted to the industrialist, whose video has gone viral since. Speaking at an event organised by The Economic Times, Bajaj said there is an atmosphere of fear, people are afraid to criticise the government and do not have the confidence that the government will appreciate any criticism.
However, some BJP leaders and ministers were not delighted by the industrialist's comments and took to Twitter a day after to hail home minister's response to Bajaj. Shah had dismissed Bajaj's allegations saying that there was no atmosphere of fear in the country. "There's no need to be afraid of anything. The Narendra Modi government has been criticised continuously in media. But if you are saying that there is such an environment, we need to work to improve this," Shah said.
The response was noted and hailed by BJP ministers like Nirmala Sitharaman and Piyush Goyal. Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri, praising Shah, pointed out the the fact that Bajaj could stand up to Shah and express himself freely and 'instigate others to join' him clearly indicate that "freedom of expression, democratic values are alive and flourishing in India." He added. "This is exactly what democracy is all about."
While he accepted that were societies that are governed by fear, he tweeted that a society where citizens could weave 'fake narratives' at the government is a society characterised by 'fair dose of indiscipline' instead of fear.
There are societies in the world which are governed by fear, but a society where citizens can weave fake narratives & hurl invectives at the govt cannot be classified as one governed by fear, it is a society characterized by fair dose of indiscipline.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 1, 2019
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman appreciated Shah's response too and noted that questions and criticisms were answered and addressed. "Always a better way to seek an answer than spreading one’s own impressions which, on gaining traction, can hurt national interest," the finance minister said in the tweet.
Home Minister @AmitShah answers on how issues raised by Shri. Rahul Bajaj were addressed. Questions/criticisms are heard and answered/addressed. Always a better way to seek an answer than spreading one’s own impressions which, on gaining traction, can hurt national interest. https://t.co/WytSpyRyP6
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) December 1, 2019
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, while referring to Shah's response, said that there was no need for any fear.
See Home Minister @amitshah respond to Rahul Bajaj’s claim that people are afraid to express themselves. “After hearing your question I doubt anybody believes this claim that people are afraid.”https://t.co/z3Xc185Go2 https://t.co/TlOJqkS3Vf
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) December 1, 2019
Meanwhile, the Congress party also remarked on the issue by taking a thinly-veiled jibe at the ruling-BJP, praising Bajaj's 'courage' and 'integrity' for calling 'a spade a spade'.
It can be difficult to speak truth to power. Circumstances however, have made doing so increasingly necessary.#RahulBajaj stands out for his courage & integrity & for calling a spade a spade. pic.twitter.com/O6d7EWtiCd
— Congress (@INCIndia) December 1, 2019
As the hashtag #RahulBajaj became one of the top trends on Twitter on Sunday, BJP IT-cell in-charge Amit Malviya in an an tempt to save face, tweeted news videos which showed Bajaj praising former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for interacting with industry bodies when the UPA was in power, in a move to link Bajaj to the previous Congress-led UPA regime.
Did Rahul Bajaj say that he doesn’t meet Ministers?
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) December 1, 2019
If one had such fawning view of Rahul Gandhi, when he is an unmitigated disaster, then it is only natural to spin imaginary yarn and assume the worst for the current regime.
Truth be told - industrialists who flourished in the license raj will always be beholden to the Congress. pic.twitter.com/9sjSTRN9RZ
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) November 30, 2019
‘It is difficult for me to praise anyone’, said Rahul Bajaj except off course if it is Rahul Gandhi.
Wear your political affiliation on your sleeve and don’t hide behind inanities like there is atmosphere of fear and all that... pic.twitter.com/2JeyBzkfp8
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) November 30, 2019
In another tweet, Malviya questioned the 'fear' Bajaj was talking about. He asked, "The atmosphere of fear is so pervasive these days that media talking heads criticise the govt day in and out, write op-eds calling obnoxious names and wishing death for those in power and even now are hopping mad with joy that an industrialist asked a question. Where is the fear?"
Bajaj had asked a panel comprising Shah, Sitharaman and Goyal, as to why people were not allowed to question the government. Bajaj said people had the freedom to critique the UPA government but that the current regime has created an environment of fear and uncertainty. "During UPA-II, 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” The Print. reported Bajaj as saying in a recording of the event, which soon went viral.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 03, 2019 07:27:24 IST