After backlash, RSS distances self from article calling Infosys 'anti-national'
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government and leading industry bodies are reportedly keeping mum over the RSS-linked Panchjanya's "anti-national" remark against Infosys. Surprisingly, India's top industry bodies such as CII, FICCI, and NASSCOM reportedly ignored queries on the subject. However, the RSS has since distanced itself from the remarks. Notably, Infosys has been facing flak the glitchy new Income Tax portal it developed.
What did the RSS say?
In a tweet, RSS spokesperson Sunil Ambekar said that Infosys has made a "seminal contribution" to India's progress, and the views published in the Panchjanya article only reflect the individual views of the author. "Panchjanya is not (the) mouthpiece of the RSS and the said article or opinions expressed in it should not be linked with the RSS," Ambedkar added.
What did business groups say?
Apart from the silence of industry bodies, a senior official of an Indian conglomerate tried to play it down, terming Panchjanya's remarks as a "one-off" statement and "should not be taken seriously." Stating RSS is a private body, Forbes Marshall co-chairperson Naushad Forbes said, "...if it wishes to express its opinion...they have the right to do so...That's what freedom of speech is all about."
Article, its tone 'unfortunate,' says BJP leader
Stating that the article and its "tone" were "unfortunate," a senior BJP leader told TIE, "[Infosys] would not deliberately mess up such an important project." Without reacting to the article, a BJP spokesperson said, "Infosys is a reputed firm...The CEO and other officials are saying they are on the job and we believe them. But they should deliver as time is running out."
Infosys could do much better job: BJP minister
TIE also tried to contact two Cabinet ministers and three Ministers of State. However, only one of them responded. "Infosys could do a much better job...It's a firm that provides excellent services to foreign firms...I do not understand why it could not deliver the same."
I-T department also owes responsibility for glitches: Ex-Infosys CFO
One of the few voices that supported Infosys was former Infosys Chief Financial Officer TV Mohandas Pai. Defending the company, Pai pointed out that during the user acceptance test, the product is handed over to the client. "Only after they do rigorous testing, it is released to the public. It is obvious that the Income Tax department owes responsibility for not doing adequate testing."
'These attacks go against BJP's Make in India policy'
Meanwhile, the Opposition slammed the remarks as "disparaging," saying it reflects poorly on the government. "When such attacks come from the RSS, it is as good as (from) the government of India...These people talk about 'Make in India' and 'vocal for local', this goes against their own principles they propagate," former Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily said.
Should not be attributed as wilful: NCP
On Panchjanya's remarks, NCP's Rajya Sabha MP Majeed Memon said, "Infosys is internationally acknowledged...if there are any lapses in any deal vis a vis the government...it should not be attributed as wilful to bring disrepute to the Narendra Modi government as suggested by the RSS."
What was the controversy?
RSS-affiliated Panchjanya, in its latest edition, has alleged that Infosys is deliberately trying to destabilize the Indian economy, blaming it for not solving the glitches in the new Income Tax portal. Panchjanya termed Infosys "anti-national," accusing it of helping "Naxals, Leftists and the tukde-tukde gang." Last month, the Finance Ministry summoned Infosys CEO Salil Parekh and gave a September 15 deadline for a resolution.
Government received numerous complaints since I-T portal was launched
The new Income Tax portal was launched on June 7 to enhance the taxpayers' experience by reducing the processing time for returns from 63 days to one day and expedite refunds. However, since its launch, FM Nirmala Sitharaman's Twitter timeline has been flooded with complaints of glitches in the portal. Notably, the government has paid Infosys Rs. 164.5 crore for developing the portal.