NEW DELHI: Opposition leaders on Saturday latched on to a media report on Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal's criticism of business practices of Indian industry to attack the government with some also taking a swipe at India Inc for backing the ruling dispensation, saying "you reap what you sow".
Speaking at a CII plenary session, Goyal reportedly asserted that the business practices of Indian industry went against national interests.
According to a report in the Hindu, Goyal repeatedly singled out the Tata Group in his comments and said, "Kya aapke jaisi company, ek do aapne shaayad koi videshi company kharid li Uska importance zyaada ho gaya, desh hith kam ho gaya? (A company like yours, maybe you bought one or two foreign companies, now their importance is greater than national interest)? However, sources close to the minister said his comments were represented out of context.
"The thrust of his interaction was on national interest. The minister's heart-felt appeal must be viewed in its entirety and not singled out for slander," a source close to him said.
Several Opposition leaders tagged the media report and attacked the government for the criticism of India Inc.
Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said he was flabbergasted at Goyal's "unprovoked attacks" on Indian industry.
"First, he ensured Rajya Sabha did not function at all, and now this bizarre tirade! He couldn't be speaking without official sanction, could he?" Ramesh said in a tweet.
Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill claimed that by making this statement, Goyal has mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi's slogan "Ease of doing business in India".
"BJP Ministers confusing 'Govt andhbhakti' with 'deshbhakti' while pretending to be franchise holders of Nationalism!" Shergill tweeted.
On one hand the BJP government has given a contract to build the new Parliament of India to the Tatas and on the other hand BJP minister Goyal, according to media reports, is calling them anti-national, he said, adding that "BJP doublespeak knows no limits".
Some leaders also took a swipe at India Inc for backing the BJP government in recent years.
Senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said, "You reap what you sow INDIA INC."
"Bombay Club 1.0 created NDA/BJP Govt between 2012-2014. Threw collective weight behind one individual and not even one party. And now @PiyushGoyal terms them anti-national," the former Union minister tweeted.
Taking to Twitter, Aam Aadmi Party leader Raghav Chadha said, "Dear Corporate India, Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Best wishes."
Slamming the remarks, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi said the kind of language used against industry captains and calling their work against the nation's interest is shameful to the core.
"CII should demand an apology instead of helping him by pulling down the video. Stand up to bullying!" she said.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi also took a dig at the government over Goyal's comments, saying Prime Minister Modi wants to take them into confidence but the minister wants to hold them accountable.
How will this work, he asked.
Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra took a dig at Goyal over what she said was an "unhinged rant" at the CII meeting, saying the "pressure of working in an underperforming one man show must really be getting to them".
Anil Swarup, a former Secretary of the government of India, said he had doubted it but Goyal did make the comments and asserted that what is appalling is that no one from the industry protested.
"The industry acted worse than civil servants (at least some protested) when they were pilloried & called 'Babu' in Parliament," he said.
Reacting to the comments, former IPS officer M Nageswara Rao said he was happy that Piyush Goyal spoke from his heart.
"In less than a decade India's Rich became Super-Rich, while Non-Rich struggle to make both ends meet. All because of Central Govt's extraordinary focus on EASE OF DOING BUSINESS, rather than on EASE OF LIVING," he tweeted.