With Prime Minister Narendra Modi making it clear that he was "not afraid of" publicly standing beside industrialists because his intentions were "noble", the Congress party hit out at him and said he should not lend his legitimacy and respectability to such corporates.
"If the Prime Minister feels alright to be photographed with such people, who allegedly ripped off the banking system, and run away to Antigua and London or probably disappear from the earth, then I leave it to the Prime Minister's wisdom to lend his legitimacy and respectability to such people," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said at a press conference.
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"The question is not the capitalists or industrialists. The question is what kind of capitalists or industrialists," he said, while stressing his party was not against industrialists and capitalists, but against "crony capitalists".
"The Congress feels that private enterprise has a legitimate place in the developmental trajectory of the country. But what we are against is crony capitalism and the nexus between the suit and the boot. 'The Suit Boot ki Sarkar', when the government functions for the benefit of a few at the cost of many," he said.
Tewari also hit out at Modi for comparing himself with Mahatma Gandhi, saying: "What is even more astonishing is that the Prime Minister went and compared himself to Mahatma Gandhi.
"Its unfortunate because no politician should compare himself to the father of the nation. He said that even Mahatma Gandhi used to carry industrialists with him. Again the question is what kind of industrialists. They were those people who in the teeth of British tyranny, British imperialism, in the teeth of persecution were ready to stake in sacrifice everything they had for the freedom of India."
These industrialists stood with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress because their goal was the freedom of India, and were "not those industrialists who had gamed the banking system and runaway with thousands of crores of public money," he said.
Slammed Modi over development issues, Tewari said that "the Prime Minister patted himself on the back saying that the country is developing splendidly", but this is not borne out by facts.
"The facts are that farmers are forced to sell their crop below the minimum support price. The fact is that small and medium industry is closing down rapidly across the country."
On Modi's visit to Uttar Pradesh, Tewari said when any Prime Minister visits a state seven times, six or nine months before the Lok Sabha elections, it is possibly the most "potent barometer of the nervousness" of both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Prime Minister of India.
"This is perhaps the seventh trip that the Prime Minister is making to Uttar Pradesh in less than a month."
He also criticised BJP President Amit Shah's interview to a newspaper where he mentioned the Rs 12 crore Mudra loans for youth, saying the question was "how many sustainable livelihoods have those loans created".
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala meanwhile tweeted: "Dear PM, your political career reeks of a culture of cronyism! From giving land to your crony friends at throwaway prices in Guj to GSCPC scam, from promoting select mobile wallets in DeMo to gifting largest defence contracts in Rafale! So spare us the lecture!"
It is pertinent to mention here that since the Modi government has come to power after winning the Lok Sabha elections 2014, Congress party has been terming it as a 'Suit Boot ki Sarkar'. Grand old party's president Rahul Gandhi has often alleged that PM Modi has been working to benefit certain industrialists. With general elections drawing near, attacks have sharpen.
(With IANS inputs)