Industrialists are not be hated. They are not persona non-grata. They are also the citizens of the country and hence Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to take care of them too. A prime minister is not supposed to be anti-industrialists or pro-industrialists, but he is expected to work for the people’s inclusive development without any biases or prejudices. In Lucknow on Sunday, Modi said that he was not afraid of being seen with industrialists playing a key role in the nation’s development. Attacking the opposition parties for calling industrialists ‘thieves and bandits,’ 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. 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. 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 in Lucknow, 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. “Those who do not meet publicly and do everything behind curtains remain scared,” he said. “Amar Singh, former Samajwadi Party leader, is sitting here and he can give you all the details,” Modi said with laughter. Modi also said that ‘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…’
It is a fact that public money is being treated by many as their own money and they have little or no fear of the rule of law. It is this attitude which has convinced many borrowers from the corporate world not to return the money they have borrowed from the banks. A chunk of them are wilful defaulters, while many others manage to ensure that the rule of does not grip them. As a result, India’s public sector banks are bleeding. Respecting Prime Minister Modi’s faith in industrialists, they should immediately return the money to the banks, which are faced with the worst kind of non-performing assets (NPAs). Prime Minister Modi has reiterated on many occasions the resolve of his government to ensure that every NPA account will be sorted out in the larger interests of banks.
The projects the PM launched on Sunday are expected to hugely boost industrialisation in Uttar Pradesh, which has big development goals to meet before next year’s Lok Sabha elections. The state’s Industry Minister Satish Mahana said the projects have the potential to create more than two lakh jobs. Jobs are certainly needed. One hopes the industrialists reciprocate the gestures of Prime Minister Modi in a proper manner. Investments under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have become a sham in our country. CSR funding needs to be audited and streamlined in a proper manner.
(The writer is an independent socio-political and economic analyst. The views expressed are his personal)