Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech in Lucknow on Sunday, where he defended his photograph with fugitive diamond trader Nirav Modi, taken in Davos earlier this year, the Opposition Congress said he needs to choose the kind of industrialists he plans to support.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for 81 investment projects worth over Rs. 60,000, Mr. Modi had said if one’s conscience was clear, then he does not hesitate in being photographed with anyone.

“The question is not that he posed for pictures with capitalists or industrialists. The question is what kind of capitalists or industrialists. If the PM feels it is all right to be photographed with industrialists who have ripped off money from Indian banks and fled to London and Antigua, then I leave it to his wisdom, to lend legitimacy to such men,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari pointed out.

Unfortunate comparison

On the Prime Minister’s reference to Mahatma Gandhi, who was often seen with the head of the Birla group, Mr. Tewari said it was unfortunate that Mr. Modi had compared himself to the Father of the Nation, adding that he must remember the kind of industrialists Gandhi was seen with.

“They were those people, who in the teeth of British tyranny were ready to stake and sacrifice everything they had for freedom of India. They stood by Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress for freedom of India. They were not those who had gamed the banking system and run away with thousands of crores of public money,” he said. Stressing that the Congress also was not against industrialists or capitalists, Mr. Tewari said, “We are against crony capitalists.”

He also pointed out that Sunday’s visit was perhaps Mr. Modi’s seventh tour of U.P., showing his and his party’s nervousness about the future of the Yogi Adityanath government.

“PM patted his back that country is progressing splendidly. The facts are otherwise. Farmers are forced to sell their crops below MSP… medium and small industrials units are shutting… jobs are not created for young people. The economy is up the creek without a paddle,” he said.

The question is not that he posed for pictures with capitalists or industrialists, the question is what kind of capitalists or industrialistsManish TewariCongress Spokesperson

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