Home Minister Amit Shah speaking at an awards event organised by The Economic Times in Mumbai on Saturday said the government and Bharatiya Janata Party strongly condemn remarks of BJP Lok Sabha member Pragya Singh Thakur on Nathuram Godse.

Shah’s comments came after industrialist Rahul Bajaj who was present at the  said, “Nobody from our industrialist friends will speak, I will say openly… An environment will have to be created… When UPA II was in power, we could criticise anyone… You (the government) are doing good work, but despite that we don’t have the confidence that you will appreciate if we criticise you openly (Aap achchha kaam kar rahe hain, uske baad bhi, hum aapko criticise openly karein, confidence nahin hai ki you will appreciate).”

Replying to comments made by veteran industrialist Rahul Bajaj at the Economic Times award function in Mumbai, Shah said that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has already condemned her remarks and the party has taken action against her.

“Neither the government, nor the BJP supports such remarks. We strongly condemn it,” he said. Bajaj said there is an atmosphere of fear, and people are afraid to criticise the government and do not have the confidence that the government will appreciate any criticism.

Pragya Thakur again invited controversy on Wednesday with her remarks in the Lok Sabha during DMK member A Raja’s narration of a statement by Nathuram Godse before a court on why he killed Mahatma Gandhi. The BJP barred Thakur from attending its parliamentary party meeting in the ongoing session and removed her from the consultative committee on defence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier said that he would never forgive Thakur for insulting Mahatma Gandhi by calling his assassin Nathuram Godse a true patriot. The home ministry denied allegation that there was an atmosphere of fear in the country.

“No need to fear about anything. The Narendra Modi-government has been criticised continuously in media. But, if you are saying that there is such an environment, we need to work to improve this,” he said. Shah said that the government is working in a most transparent manner and if there is any criticism, depending on its merit we try to improve on that.

On the situation in Kashmir, the home minister asked the industry community to visit the Valley with family and assess the real situation there. “As home minister of the country, I am urging you to please visit Kashmir. Situation is normal there, you will see,” he added.

As far as the timeline for removing restriction on internet, the minister said that as this is a law and order issue, the local administration would take decision in this regard. Further, he said that today only 630 people are in jail and out of that, less than 112 are political prisoners.

Bajaj’s statement comes a day after former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke at the National Economy Conclave about “a palpable climate of fear” in society amidst dipping GDP growth. “Many industrialists tell me they live in fear of harassment by government authorities… Entrepreneurs are hesitant to put up fresh projects, for fear of failure attributed to ulterior motives,” Singh said.