- Rahul Bajaj asked question to Amit Shah about criticising the government
- Amit Shah denied concerns there was an atmosphere of fear in the country
- Home Minister was praised by Hardeep Singh Puri, Nirmala Sitharaman
Two Union Ministers have weighed in on Home Minister Amit Shah's reply to industrialist Rahul Bajaj's direct questions on the Narendra Modi government's perceived aversion to criticism.
Mr Bajaj had at a private event organised by The Economic Times newspaper told Mr Shah that people feared criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration for fear of reprisals. "...You are doing good work but if we criticise you there is no confidence that you will appreciate that," Mr Bajaj said. "In UPA 2 we could criticise anyone," he added.
The Home Minister denied allegations there was an atmosphere of fear in the country. "There's no need to be afraid of anything. The Narendra Modi government has been criticised continuously in media. But if you are saying that there is such an environment, we need to work to improve this," Mr Shah responded.
The Home Minister's response won praise from Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
"There are societies in the world which are governed by fear, but a society where citizens can weave fake narratives & hurl invectives at the govt cannot be classified as one governed by fear, it is a society characterized by fair dose of indiscipline," Mr Puri tweeted, though he did not elaborate on who or what decides "fake narratives". Critics of the Modi government have often alleged that their reasoning is brushed aside even in the face of facts.
Mr Puri said the industrialist was able to ask the critical question to the Home Minister only because "freedom of expression" is "alive" in India.
That Mr Rahul Bajaj could stand up to Sh @AmitShah Ji's face, express himself freely & instigate others to join him clearly indicate that freedom of expression & democratic values are alive & flourishing in India.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) December 1, 2019
This is exactly what democracy is all about. @BJP4India
"That Mr Rahul Bajaj could stand up to sh @AmitShah Ji's face, express himself freely & instigate others to join him clearly indicate that freedom of expression & democratic values are alive & flourishing in India. This is exactly what democracy is all about," Mr Puri tweeted.
Ms Sitharaman said that asking a question for clarity is "better" than "spreading one's own impressions".
"Home Minister @AmitShah answers on how issues raised by Shri. Rahul Bajaj were addressed. Questions/criticisms are heard and answered/addressed. Always a better way to seek an answer than spreading one's own impressions which, on gaining traction, can hurt national interest," she tweeted.
It can be difficult to speak truth to power. Circumstances however, have made doing so increasingly necessary.#RahulBajaj stands out for his courage & integrity & for calling a spade a spade. pic.twitter.com/O6d7EWtiCd— Congress (@INCIndia) December 1, 2019
The Congress also weighed in on the issue with a swipe at the BJP. "It can be difficult to speak truth to power. Circumstances however, have made doing so increasingly necessary. Rahul Bajaj stands out for his courage & integrity & for calling a spade a spade," the Congress tweeted.