|BJP general secretary Varun Gandhi to his right, Rajnath Singh at the event at Mahajati Sadan on Monday.
Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha
Calcutta, Sept. 30: Bengal industry today asked Rajnath Singh questions tailor-made for Narendra Modi and received answers the candidate for Prime Minister may not flaunt in his resume.
During an interaction on the “outlook for a balanced economic growth” — jointly organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and MCC Chamber of Commerce — the BJP president tried to woo the business community in the state almost from where Modi had left off during a similar programme in Calcutta in April this year.
Following Modi’s line last time, when the Gujarat chief minister had managed to portray a picture of harmony among agriculture, industry and other services in his state and stressed the need for development, Singh today advised the audience not to follow GDP numbers alone.
“Do not consider a human being as just an economic creature. Citizens should get all the facilities,” Singh said.
Singh’s approach, however, did not cut much ice.
Questions on economic reforms flew thick and fast from industry representatives who attended the session.
“Sir, you are saying the BJP will foster higher growth. But your party has opposed the GST (goods and services tax), which alone can increase the GDP by one or two per cent. What is the party’s stance on this?” asked a member.
Under the GST, there would be a single tax for goods as well as services. The business community is awaiting the introduction of the single-taxation system, but the BJP has till now vetoed its rollout.
Singh today said his party would clear both the GST and direct tax code with “certain amendments” if voted to power.
“Sir, god forbid, if the NDA does not come to power, what will be your views on GST?” asked another representative.
Singh smiled: “Shubh shubh boliye (speak well). With all your support, the NDA will come to power in 2014.”
The BJP president, who played a key role in announcing Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, is visiting various parts of the country and is focusing on an alternative economic model, based on that followed by Modi in Gujarat, to drum up support for the BJP for the Lok Sabha elections next year.
Aware that some economists have questioned the Gujarat model and certain development indicators in the state, the BJP president today invoked the “gram swaraj” slogan of Mahatma Gandhi to highlight the need for improving the purchasing power of villagers in the country.
The rhetoric, however, did not address the core concerns of Bengal’s industry representatives, as Singh was asked why his party voted in favour of the land acquisition act in Parliament.
“The act for which you have voted will make setting up of large industries difficult. How do you propose to resolve this?” Singh was asked.
The BJP president’s claim that the concerns of the farmers would have to be looked into failed to convince the audience. Singh was asked why his party supported the food security bill, which would cost the exchequer around Rs 90,000 crore.
“He kept on talking about alternative model but failed to specify the difference,” a businessman said.