V G Siddhartha's death: Oppn parties call for debate in Parliament

Karnataka CM B S Yediyurappa pays his respects to the mortal remains of CCD founder V G Siddhartha, in Chikmagalur, on Wednesday | Photo: PTI
Leading Opposition parties and trade bodies on Wednesday expressed concern at the circumstances that led to the death of Café Coffee Day founder V G Siddhartha. 

They also flagged the alleged harassment he and other businessmen are facing from tax authorities.

The Congress has given adjournment notices in the Lok Sabha to discuss what led to the death of Siddhartha. The Trinamool Congress moved a notice demanding a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday on the “need to create a conducive atmosphere for entrepreneurs to flourish”.

In a Facebook post, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to the central government, to “work in a peaceful manner”, now that it has been elected, “so that people are confident and that political vendetta and agencies do not destroy the future of the country.”

“I hear from different sources that captains of industry in the country are under pressure; some of them have left the country and some are contemplating moving out,” she said. “All the opposition political parties are afraid of the horse trading and harassment with political vendetta,” Mamata said.

During Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Congress’ Manish Tewari demanded a probe into the alleged harassment of Siddhartha, as mentioned in his suicide note, by income tax officials. Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of betraying the people who voted for an independent and hassle-free economy.

Praveen Khandelwal of the Confederation of All India Traders, a traders’ body considered close to the Bharatiya Janata Party, said Siddhartha’s death “is an alarm bell for the economy and entrepreneurship in India.” He said benefits of the government’s assistance to start-ups and entrepreneurs were not reaching “down the line.

“Earlier, it was the farmers and now entrepreneurs and tomorrow may be some other section. It is a dangerous trend and needs to be stopped here,” Khandelwal said, asking the government to come up with a scheme to handhold entrepreneurs.

The Congress’ Karnataka unit sought an investigation into Siddhartha’s death to uncover “the invisible hands that ended his life.”

“The result of the harassment by IT officials and decline of India’s entrepreneurial position turning virulent by the day, with tax terror and collapse of the economy,” the state unit said. 

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah said Siddhartha’s letter talked about “tax terrorism”, which is the ugly face of politically-motivated institutions.”

The Karnataka BJP unit accused the Congress of turning into “opportunistic political vultures, flocking in full force, disconnected from the emotions of the family members of VG Siddhartha.” 

“Investigation will reveal the facts behind this tragic incident. Until then, respect the sentiment of the masses and display some humanity, if left with any,” the BJP said.

In her statement, Mamata said it appears that Siddhartha was greatly depressed due to harassment and pressure from different agencies. She said Siddhartha could not run his business in a peaceful manner because of this pressure. She also flagged the issue of the Centre actively pursuing disinvestment of government assets and public sector undertakings.

Condoling the demise of Siddhartha, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “Ease of Doing Business” under BJP translates into “Ease of Ending Business” and termed it a “worrying trend.”

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