Top industrialist Rahul Bajaj told NDTV that the sheen from the government seems to be wearing off
Top industrialist and Rajya Sabha member Rahul Bajaj, known to be an admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had strong words for the NDA government, saying it was losing the sheen it came with after the historic win in the Lok Sabha polls last year.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election victory, Mr Bajaj, Chairman of the Bajaj Group and one of corporate India's leading voices, said in an interview to NDTV, "We had an emperor on 27th of May 2014. Very few places in the world in the last 20-30 years (have) a success like that in the history of a nation. I am not anti this government. But the fact does remain, the shine seems to be wearing off."
The 77-year-old added that he is saying "what everybody is saying".
The downslide, according to him, is reflected in a series of election results in the past year. "Delhi showed that, municipal panchayat elections of West Bengal showed that. And I hope for the best for both sides. I want good of India. I am an outsider, I know nothing. But if the BJP forms a good government (in Bihar), at least there is some redemption. There is some hope (for the BJP in assembly elections) in Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Pondicherry."
Mr Bajaj was speaking in the context of the government's new black money bill which has opened a three-month window, or compliance period, to declare undisclosed foreign assets. Those who avail of the three-month window will pay a 60 per cent charge, but avoid prosecution. Those who don't risk a 120 per cent penalty, in addition to a maximum jail term of 10 years.
But Mr Bajaj said that the business community was anxious that the declaration would not guarantee protection from future prosecution.
"I declare it and then you say it's an illegal declaration." If that is the case, he says, "I can't declare. I won't declare. I will take my chances, go to Supreme Court, and fight it out. In my lifetime, nothing will happen to me."
The government has promised to closely monitor the declarations to ensure there is no harassment by tax officials.
But Mr Bajaj is not convinced. "Everybody is saying... ITO, Enforcement Directorate, people at the level are same as they were before. You will be harassed," he said.
The top industrialist also said that he had no sympathy for businessmen who broke the law, but that the overall philosophy of the law seemed to be of settling scores. "I think drafting has been done with a clear presumption, which I feel, I can't say for the whole group. I have no sympathy for people who did that. So, this has been done with a vengeance," he said.
"This is not Narendra Modi's government," he said.Watch more on Truth vs Hype: the Black Money Exodus, Saturday 9:30 pm on NDTV 24x7