Not afraid of being seen with industrialists in public, says Narendra Modi as Opposition slams PM for lending legitimacy to 'crony capitalists'

For the first time in a public address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hit back at critics, especially the Opposition, who questioned his perceived friendly relations with corporates. Modi on Sunday said that unlike "some people" he was "not afraid of" publicly standing beside industrialists and business magnates because his intentions were "noble". Attacking the Opposition, especially the Congress, for calling industrialists "chor and luterey", Modi said that he did not hesitate in standing with the business community as his "intentions" are clear.

"We are not those who are scared of standing next to businessmen," he said, adding like farmers, bankers, government employees and labourers, industrialists also contributed to the development of the country. In response, the Congress responded to his remarks saying he should not lend his legitimacy and respectability to "crony capitalists" while Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Adami Party leader Arvind Kejriwal called it "an unsuccessful try" as people were now raising questions.

Modi's retort came against the backdrop of the repeated attacks by the Congress, which has been alleging that the prime minister had links with "corrupt" industrialists and has been accusing him of neglecting the farmers and the underprivileged.

 Not afraid of being seen with industrialists in public, says Narendra Modi as Opposition slams PM for lending legitimacy to crony capitalists

Narendra Modi speaks at a ground breaking ceremony to launch various projects worth 60,000 crore rupees, at Indira Gandhi Pratishthan in Lucknow on Sunday. PTI

The prime minister said those who used to look for issues to criticise him, should note that whatever mistake they find dates back to 70 years. "Please note, whatever you find will be dating back to 70 years (of their rule) and not from my four years. I have only four years in my account and you have 70 years," he said.

Modi, who launched as many as 81 investment projects worth over Rs 60,000 crore here, said even Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi stayed with the Birla family but his intentions were pure.

"You cannot have blot on you simply by standing with anyone if your intentions are good and clear. Gandhiji's intentions were so pure that he never hesitated in staying with Birla family," he said. "Public mey milna nahi, parde ke peeche sab kuch karna hai. Woh dartey rahtey hain. (Those who do not meet publicly and do everything behind curtains remain scared)," he said.

Amar Singh, former SP leader, is sitting here and he can give you all the details, Modi said with a laughter.

"Should we insult them (industrialists and businessmen) by labelling them as 'chor' and 'luterey'. What is this? Those who will do wrong will have to leave the country or spend life in the jail. This was not done earlier because everything was done behind the curtains..."

"Kiskey jahaj me log ghoomtey pata nahi kya," (Are you not aware on whose aircraft they used to travel)," he said without naming anyone.

He said there was a time when coal brought a bad name, apparently referring to the coal block allocation scam.

The mega event today was attended by captains of the industry, including Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla group, Gautam Adani, chairman of Adani group, Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel group and Sanjeev Puri, MD, ITC.

Besides top magnates of other major business houses like Walmart participated in the event.

"Some persons are calling it ground breaking ceremony but its a record breaking ceremony. In such a less time, old ways have been changed and trust of industrialists has been gathered. I am happy that in Yogi Adityanath's leadership atmosphere is being created for investment by changing work culture," the prime minister said.

Modi said India has become the world's second largest producer of mobile phones, and Uttar Pradesh is leading this manufacturing revolution. India is being recognised as mobile manufacturing hub, he said. He said all households will get electricity by March next year.

The prime minister said the government is giving prime importance to the energy sector, especially green energy and solar energy. The projects the PM launched today are expected to hugely boost industrialisation in the state, which has big development goals to meet before next year's Lok Sabha elections.

State's industry minister Satish Mahana said the projects have the potential to create more than two lakh jobs. The prime minister also took the opportunity to attack his political rivals who have been ridiculing his frequent visits to the state and saying that it smacked of his nervousness ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

"As an MP from the state, I will come twice, five times, ten times... I am your MP and will keep visiting (the state)," he said. His remarks come against the backdrop of opposition Samajwadi Party mocking at the prime minister for visiting the state six times in a month. Modi's Uttar Pradesh tour today marked his sixth visit to the state this month and second to Lucknow in as many days.

Without naming the Samajwadi Party, Modi said the tube in a 'cycle' (its party symbol) tyre can take only a limited pressure of air. "Beyond that limit, the same air hampers its movement," he said.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jul 30, 2018 10:09:52 IST