WITH the Opposition often accusing his government of being a “suit-boot ki sarkaar” and being biased towards industrialists, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that he was not afraid of being seen next to “udyogpati” as they played as crucial a role in nation development as a labourer, a farmer or an artisan. It was wrong to call them “chor-lutere (thieves)”, he added.
Modi was in Lucknow for a mega event where he laid the foundation stone for 81 projects, worth overall Rs 60,000 crore.
“Agar Hindustan ko banane mein ek kisan ki mehnat kaam karti hai, ek karigar ki mehnat kaam karti hai, ek banker, financier ki mehnat kaam karti hai, ek sarkar ke mulazim ki mehnat kaam karti hai, ek mazdoor ki mehnat kaam karti hai, waise desh ke udyogkaron ki bhi desh ko banane mein bhumika hai (In building Hindustan, if the hard work of a farmer, an artisan, a banker, a financer, a government employee, a labourer, all has a role, similarly industrialists too have a role),” the PM said.
“Hum unko apmaanit karenge, chor-lutere kahenge… yeh kaunsa tareeka hai (We humiliate industrialists, call them thieves, robbers… how is that right)?”. At the same time, those who did any wrong would have to either leave the country or end up in jail, Modi said. “This was not done earlier.”
Sunday’s event was attended by industry bigwigs such as Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla group; Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani group; Subhash Chandra, chairman of the Essel group and a Rajya Sabha MP; and Sanjeev Puri, MD, ITC. Top executives of business houses like Walmart were also present.
The PM drew a parallel with Mahatma Gandhi, talking about his association with the Birlas, and saying that even a man as “pure” as him was not hesitant about this as his intentions were clear. On the other hand, he added, there were people who went out of their way to not be seen with industrialists, “lekin ek bhi udyogpati aisa nahin hoga jinhone unke gharon mein jaakar ke pranam dandwat na kiyaa ho (but there would be no industrialist who wouldn’t have gone to their house and bowed down before them)”.
Pointing to former Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, who was among the guests, Modi said Singh would know all about it. “Public mein milna nahin, parde ke peeche sab kuchch karna hai. Woh dartey rahtey hain (Don’t meet in public, do everything behind curtains. Such people are scared),” he said.
Those looking for issues to criticise him should note that whatever mistake they find dates back 70 years, the PM added. “And not from my four years. I have only four years in my account and you had 70 years.”
Referring to Sunday’s ceremony as “a record-breaking ceremony instead of a ground-breaking ceremony”, the PM praised the state Yogi Adityanath government for bringing “such large-scale investment in just five months’ time”, after the investors’ meet in February. He said the Yogi government was working with a “holistic vision” and with “inclusive action” for overall balanced development of the state. The projects started on Sunday would generate direct employment for “at least two lakh people”, he said, while Uttar Pradesh would soon become a “trillion dollor economy”.
With one of the projects linked to manufacture of mobiles, Modi said India had become the world’s second largest producer of cellphones, and that UP was leading this “manufacturing revolution”.
Having been a CM himself, Modi said, he understood the hurdles in bringing investment, such as environmental clearance issues, court cases or details appearing in a newspaper.
Under Adityanath, even crime had come down in the state, Modi said.
Admitting that he had been coming to the state frequently — Sunday’s was Modi’s sixth visit to UP in a month, and second to Lucknow in as many days; a frequency the Opposition has linked to the coming polls — the PM said it was just his way of paying back the over 22 crore people of the state for the love he had received from them as one of their representatives in Parliament. “Being an Uttar Pradesh MP too, the news of its development gives me joy,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the PM talked about the heavy rainfall in certain regions of the country and said his government was keeping a watch on the problems people were facing.