Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that unlike "some people" he was "not afraid of" publicly standing beside industrialists and business magnates because his intentions were "noble" and added that industrialists too contribute to nation building and it was not right to label them all as thieves but those who do wrong "will have to leave the country" or live in jail.
"We are not the people who will be afraid of standing beside industrialists. You would be knowing some people (who are such) that you would not find a single photo of them with an industrialist/businessman. But there is not a single businessman in this country who would not have gone to these people's places and bowed to them in reverence," Modi told a government-industry interface here as he inaugurated several development projects for Uttar Pradesh.
#WAICTH: PM Modi in Lucknow says, "we aren't the ones who are scared of standing next to industrialists. Jab niyat saaf ho,irade nek ho, to kisi ke saath khade hone se daag nahi lagte. People who don't meet industrialists in public but do everything behind curtains remain scared" pic.twitter.com/mpUfQxZLf0— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) July 29, 2018
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"If your intentions are noble, you won't be tainted no matter with whom you are standing," Modi said, adding that Mahatma Gandhi never had any qualms about living in the Birla household.
"Mahatma Gandhi never hesitated standing beside (Ghanshyam Das) Birlaji because his intentions were right. But those who do things behind the curtain and wish not to be seen publicly (with corporates), they are afraid," Modi added.
The opposition has been targeting Modi over his picture at Davos economic forum in January this year with fugitive diamondtaire Nirav Modi who is at the centre of multi-thousand crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam besides the Prime Minister's perceived closeness with another fugitive, Mehul Choksi, whom he once publicly addressed as "Mehul bhai".
The opposition has also been critical of Modi government's inaction while persons like Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Choksi, Jatin Mehta and Lalit Modi easily flew out of the country after being accused of committing huge financial frauds.
The Congress party has of late also targeting Modi for allegedly giving the offset contract in the Rafale jet deal with France to "one of his corporate friends" at the expense of state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
(With inputs from agencies)