The factions are very deeply divided – those on Rahul Bajaj’s side and those who aren’t.
Rahul Bajaj is known for speaking his mind always. Even 20-25 years ago, we have heard his outbursts and he has been looked upon as some kind of outlier. People want to be politically correct and never ever be on the wrong side of the political party in power. Thus one rarely hears any other industrialist ever speak so vociferously about the ruling Govt.
Industrialists do not ever dare speak against the establishment as they fear they might face obstacles and get no clearances, NOCs, everything that they require to run a business smoothly will suddenly become out of reach. This is a very tacit understanding – you are unhappy, do something about it but don’t be vocal about the Govt in power.
Whether people like it or not, this Govt indeed does not like criticism; actually no one does. But the appetite of this Govt to take it on the chin is very small. The emotions are so high that whether the Govt instigates it or not, the self-appointed guards do not take any form of criticism – be it right or wrong. The way people get trolled when they speak against the Govt is proof enough. This, many feel percolates down from the top. Amit Shah, under the circumstances, gave a very smart reply to Rahul Bajaj’s outburst but that does not assuage the fact that many people did agree with Shah. Rajiv Bajaj coming out and saying that he did not support his father’s view was unfortunately a proof of exactly the same thing – he wanted to ensure that the ruffled feathers are smoothened lest he does face the music.
Rahul Bajaj has spoken time and again like this – completely emotional, totally critical and leaving everyone bewildered. Many have come against him, some even calling him “gone senile.” But does it mean that what he said was completely baseless? Are we saying that everything he now says is eccentric as he is old? He is criticized of being a product of the license Raj which is why he opposes anything and everything that comes in the way of his group’s progress. But his outburst against demonetization? Or that about the slowing down economic growth? Because a person is outspoken, should we out rightly reject the opinion? We are not an authoritarian Govt like the Gulf or China so we should have the freedom to say what we think is not right without the fear of being persecuted by the supporters or being labelled as ‘psuedosecular.’In any Govt, be it good or bad, there will always be those who are unhappy;’ all being happy at one time is impossible. So we need to take what Rahul Bajaj said in the right stride.
When a stalwart like Rahul Bajaj says that the Govt is not open to criticism and that there was a sense of fear, it should not be brushed off as being the rantings of an old man. It is worth pondering upon. And really, Sitharaman went too far calling this outburst as being ‘against the national interest.’ There is no denying that out growth is worrisome and that too when there is so much political stability in the country.
Clearly, something is not right somewhere.