I’m not scared of meeting industrialists in public: PM Modi

I’m not scared of meeting industrialists in public: PM Modi

LUCKNOW: PM Narendra Modi on Sunday reached out to the business community, looking to reassure industrialists that they have a significant role to play in nation building even as he warned that the choice for dishonest businessmen was to either flee the country or spend their lives in jail.
Despite the tough message for wrongdoers, the PM’s fulsome acknowledgement of the role of business along with other contributors to national life like farmers, labourers, workmen, bankers, financiers and government employees seems to be a bid to calm the worried in the business class over being targeted by new and more stringent tax reforms, clean up of shell companies and legislation such as the one that provides for takeover of fugitive economic offenders.
In a response to Rahul Gandhi’s repeated charge that a select few industrialists were being favoured + , the PM said he was not afraid of meeting them in public as he believed in having a “saaf niyat (clean intent)”. It was those who struck deals behind closed doors who had the most to worry about, he said. “There isn’t one industrialist whose house these people (opposition) have not visited to prostrate themselves, he said.Referring to how Mahatma Gandhi was frequently hosted by industrialist Birla, PM Narendra Modi said, “If your intent is good and clean, you can stand with anyone and no taint will attach to you.”
Modi then turned to the industrialist class and said their contribution to the nation should not be belittled. “(Will) we insult them, call them thieves and looters… what way is this?” he asked. In a jibe at the main opposition, he said, “Don’t people know who used whose planes to get around?” The reference was likely to a senior Congress leader’s use of a Reliance aircraft to visit Moscow in 2005.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of 81 projects worth Rs 60,000 crore in Lucknow, Modi said, “We are not scared of meeting industrialists in public because our intent is honest,” he said, adding that politicians in power in the past would loath being seen with industrialists in public, but had no qualm about striking deals behind doors.”
Under attack from the opposition — especially Congress — for allegedly being soft on big industrial houses while acting against the interests of smaller ones, Modi emphasised that business needed to play by the rules. He informed the gathering that recently he had visited Mumbai and had a meeting with industrialists where he had requested them to enhance their spending in agriculture sector. He said he was shocked to find out that the corporate sector spends hardly 1% of their earnings on the agriculture sector and told them to form brainstorming teams to work on a plan for increasing spending in the agriculture field.