NEW DELHI – Industrialist and Bajaj Group chairperson Rahul Bajaj questions Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the lynching incidents, BJP MP and Malegaon terror accused Pragya Thakur and the atmosphere of fear in the country where people are afraid to criticize the government.
Addressing the audience at an Economic Times event, which also saw Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in attendance, Bajaj said: “Nobody from our industrialist friends will speak, I will say openly… An environment will have to be created… When UPA II was in power, we could criticise anyone… You (the government) are doing good work, but despite that we don’t have the confidence that you will appreciate if we criticise you openly (Aap achchha kaam kar rahe hain, uske baad bhi, hum aapko criticise openly karein, confidence nahin hai ki you will appreciate).”
This evoked a response from Shah, who said there was no need to fear but if Bajaj felt so, then “we will have to make an effort to improve the atmosphere”.
“Phir bhi aap jo keh rahe hain ki ek atmosphere banaa hai, hamein bhi atmosphere ko sudhaarne ka prayaas karna padega… but main itna zaroor kehna chaahta hoon ki kissi ko darne ki koi zaroorat nahi hai… Na koi daraana chaahta hai… Na kuchh aisa karaa hai jiske khilaaf koi bole to sarkar ko chinta hai… Most transparent way mein ye government chali hai, aur hamein kissi bhi prakaar ke virodh ka koi dar nahin hai, aur koi [virodh] karega bhi to uske merits dekh kar hum apne aap ko improve karne ka prayaas karenge (If you say there is a certain kind of atmosphere, we will have to make efforts to improve it. But I would like to point out that there is no need for anybody to be afraid… No one wants to scare… and we have done nothing to be concerned about any criticism… The government has run in the most transparent way, and we have no fear of any kind of opposition. If anyone criticises us, we will look at the merit of the same and make efforts to improve ourselves),” Shah said.
The event also saw a discussion on lynchings, with Bajaj pointing out “intolerance ki hawaa”. “Lynchings create a hawaa, intolerance ki hawaa hai, hum darte hain… kuchh cheezon ko hum bolna nahin chahte hain par dekhte hain ki koi convict hi nahin hua abhi tak (Lynchings create an environment of intolerance and we are afraid. We see that till now, no one has been convicted)”.
To this, Shah said lynchings were not new and it was wrong to say no convictions had happened. “Lynching pehle bhi hota tha, aaj bhi hota hai — shaayad aaj pehle se kam hi hota hai… Par ye bhi theek nahin hai ki kissi ka conviction nahin hua hai. Lynching waale bahut saare cases chale our samaapt bhi ho gaye, sazaa bhi hui hai, par media mein chhapte nahin hain… (Lynchings happened earlier too, and probably more than now… But it is not correct that there have been no convictions. Several cases of lynchings have been concluded and there have been punishments but the media does not publish them).”
Bajaj spoke about BJP’s Bhopal lawmaker Pragya Thakur and questioned her appointment as member of the House panel on defence despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he would never forgive her for her remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.
The Home Minister said immediately after Thakur’s statement, he and other senior leaders had condemned it. He added that while there was some confusion over whether Thakur had indicated Godse or revolutionary Udham Singh, she had apologised for her statement in Parliament.