Written bySiddhant Pandey ·
At an Economic Times awards event in Mumbai, Bajaj asked a panel of Union Ministers on BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur's praise of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse, mob lynchings, an "atmosphere of fear," among other tough questions.
Here are more details.
Speaking from the audience, Bajaj addressed a panel of Home Minister Amit Shah, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, and Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal.
He started off by saying his name "Rahul" was given to him by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, which the panel may not be pleased to hear.
"I was born anti-establishment," he said, before posing his questions to the ministers.
Bajaj said, "Today, anyone can be called a 'patriot'. We know the man who shot Gandhiji. I don't know if there are any doubts about that."
Without naming Thakur, Bajaj said she won the Lok Sabha elections with the BJP's support.
"Nobody knew her. But you gave her a ticket, then also appointed her to the (Defense Ministry) consultative committee," Bajaj said.
Bajaj recalled that PM Modi had said he wouldn't forgive Thakur. "Anyway, she was removed (from the consultative committee). She won't have the permission to attend this session—this small session. But this is just one example," he said, adding that there's an "atmosphere of fear."
Speaking on mob lynchings, Bajaj said that it has created a "hawa" of intolerance.
"There's an atmosphere of intolerance, We're afraid of certain things that we don't want to address. But, we also see that no one has been convicted yet."
Contrarily, Bajaj said, "Without conviction, people are in jail for 100 days," hinting at Congress leader P Chidambaram, adding, "I'm not supporting anybody."
Bajaj said although none of his industrial friends would admit it, there is a fear of criticizing the government.
"In the UPA II era, we could criticize anyone. You (Modi government) are doing good work. But we don't have the confidence that you will appreciate our open criticism," admitting that he may be wrong.
Bajaj later backtracked saying, "I can't speak for everyone."
To this, the Home Minister said, "After your question, I don't think anyone would say people fear the government."
He went on to say, "There's no need for fear as no one wants to scare people. And we haven't done anything to be concerned about criticism."
He said the government has been "transparent," adding that they will take steps to improve the atmosphere.
The BJP openly criticized Thakur for her remarks on Godse, adding that it remains unclear if she had called Godse a patriot or Udham Singh.
He said the BJP has taken steps against her and Thakur had issued an apology. She was removed from the consultative committee and barred from parliamentary party meetings.
Shah said, "Neither the BJP nor the government supports such statements."
Shah said that incidents used to happen before too and have "probably" reduced over time. He said it's incorrect that no one has been convicted in connection with lynchings and blamed the media for not reporting such incidents.
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