Milind Deora says businessmen scared, afraid of speaking out

Milind Deora, head of Congress Party’s Mumbai unit who is known to be close to the business community of the country, said businessmen in the country are feeling uneasy about the current climate, but not speaking out due to fear.

Deora, who was speaking in the context of the suicide of entrepreneur and businessman VG Siddhartha — allegedly due to regulatory and financial difficulties — said it was not enough for the central government to set top-level targets — such as achieving a $5 trillion economy.

” I know people in Mumbai and in the business community,” Deora said. “They are worried, they are afraid to speak out. That is not healthy for a democracy, that is not healthy for a country that is setting targets like five trillion dollars [in GDP]”

He said Siddhartha’s suicide has come as a big shock and victimization and targeting of businesspeople by government agencies should be brought down.

“It [the death] has shocked the entrepreneurial community. It has shocked people like me, who have met entrepreneurs like him and seen the prowess, the aggression and the risk appetite they have.”

Deora said a forensic investigation should be conducted to establish whether the letter that is being circulated as that of the former owner of Cafe Coffee Day is genuine or not.

“If it is, then it should be probed,” he said. “What appears is that somebody has committed suicide. An investigation needs to happen. There is some circumstantial evidence..”

“If there is any hanky panky, if there are investigating agencies that have led to him taking this drastic step, it should be probed.”

He also said that the overall environment in the country is ‘anti-business’, and that without business activity, India will not be able to provide jobs to the millions of young people who enter the labor force every year. This could create a law-and-order problem in the country in the future, he added.

The government needs to take care of the actual feel on the ground, and cannot simply keep making top-level announcements such as ‘$5 trillion economy’ and so on, Deora said.

“The policies [of the current government] are good on paper and in theory. To say that we will have an environment which will prevent agency overreach, agency harassment is a great statement on paper, but is that actually being implemented on the ground? Is the government actually monitoring that on a daily basis?”