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Against crony capitalism, not corporates: Rahul Gandhi

Not in favour of Aadhaar’s use for surveillance; discussions needed on reservations in private sector; will not force decisions without consultations.

Updated: May 04, 2019, 08.11 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: Congress president Rahul Gandhi has disputed the notion that he is anti-business, calling it an “absurd idea”. He, however, told ET in an interview that he has a problem with “crony capitalism” of the kind he claimed was followed in awarding the offsets contract in the Rafale deal.

“I want to be very clear — there are large numbers of Indian corporates who India should be absolutely proud of and protect. You can’t build a modern nation without corporates, so it’s an absurd idea that Rahul Gandhi doesn’t like corporates. It’s crazy. I am absolutely convinced that India has to be developed and grown keeping in mind all stakeholders,” he told ET.

Gandhi said he stood for fairness and would not hesitate to back companies if such a need arose. “My point is there should be fairness. Wherever there is pain, I will go. It doesn’t matter who is hurting — big business, small business, shopkeepers, farmers. And if tomorrow I find that the honest corporates of this country are in pain, I will be the first person to defend them.”

At the same time, Gandhi singled out Reliance Group promoter Anil Ambani to explain where his discomfiture lay. “But, there are also crony capitalists like Anil Ambani, who are dishonest and who are the problem.”

The Congress president exuded confidence that he will be able to put in place a simplified GST if his party comes to power. “We are pretty confident that we’ll be able to deliver a simplified GST — one tax, minimum tax, covering larger parts of the Indian economy,” he said.

Further, Gandhi accused the government of using Aadhaar for surveillance. “We view the instrument as something that liberates India, that helps India flower. The PM views Aadhaar as something that allows him to see what people are doing, what they’re saying, what they’re spending (on), what they’re buying. So we’re against that aspect of Aadhaar. We want it to be an instrument of the Indian people, but we don’t want it to become a weapon of surveillance.”

On the question of land acquisition for government and private projects, Gandhi feels the need for a conversation among stakeholders — the government, farmers and corporates. “I actually think that partnership between farmers, corporates and small and medium businesses is the way forward. A conversation is required,” he added.

Opportunity for India
He also called for similar discussion on reservations in the private sector, assuring that the Congress will not act without consultations. “I would like a discussion on it. I don’t do politics based on what I think should be done. I don’t do politics like Mr Modi, who thought demonetisation should be done and went ahead and did it without consulting anyone.”

Talking about the challenge from China and Chinese goods flooding Indian markets, Gandhi said there are serious problems with the Chinese business model, which is being felt across the globe and, in turn, creating an opportunity for India.

“If we lay the groundwork properly, we will become a competitor to China… But we are losing the opportunity because we’re not being strategic.”

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