Law minister, Bajaj Auto chief spar over govt functioning

A discussion on reviving Indian economy at the World Economic Forum today turned into a war of words between Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and Bajaj Auto Chairman Rahul Bajaj over the functioning of government.

Bajaj, one of the panelists at the session on "Rebooting India", attacked policy environment and said his firm had been able to grow "inspite of the government".

"We decided many years ago, decades ago we will not do business where we have to deal with the government. We don't manufacture, we don't buy things for the government...We are in motorcycles, the financial services...," he said.

Bajaj, who had also served as Rajya Sabha MP, added that despite having cash on its balance sheet, his company had deliberately stayed away from investing in power projects, coal mines and infrastructure development.

Bajaj's comments, however, did not go down well with Kumar, who asserted that the company made highest levels of profits in the last years.

"Yes, there are no perfect situations and no perfect solutions... but if we were doing everything which is wrong in terms of policy, how is it that Bajaj Auto is one of the most successful organisations in the last years recording the highest levels of profits?" Kumar said.

He added that the main source of income for Bajaj Auto today is financial management, which has been made possible by the vast accumulation of wealth from their businesses.

"How is it that despite some people suggesting things are going wrong with this country, nothing seems to be going right with the country and how is it that we (had) achieved about 8.2 per cent growth?" questioned Kumar.

He further said, "the assumptions that we are not getting used to high growth is a wrong assumption. The very fact that we are discussing rebooting of Indian economy at 5.5 per cent while the rest of the world is doing 3.2 per cent shows that we have got accustomed to high growth and that is how it should be and we are going to proceed to that high growth level."

As things got further heated up, Indian Express Editor in Chief and moderator of the session, Shekhar Gupta intervened and requested both the speakers to take the conversation offline.

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