On the second day of his visit to Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched 81 investment projects worth over Rs 60,000 crore at a mega ground-breaking event held in Lucknow on Sunday and also took a dig at the Congress.

“Will we call our industrialists thieves and dacoits? They play an important role in shaping India. Of course, those who break the law will either flee the country [out of fear of law] or spend their lives in jail,” said the PM referring to the bank fraud cases involving Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.

“We have the courage to stand alongside industrialists. We do not need to meet them in closed rooms as our intent is clean and policies are clear,” he said.

On Friday, the Congress had alleged that the failure of the government in bringing back fugitives such as Mehul Choksi – who took Antiguan citizenship last year – “raises a doubt about the seriousness and bona fides of Modi government”.

Meanwhile, the PM hailed the business community as an important unit of nation building and are connected to the dreams of crores of youth.

“This is the second time in five months that I am visiting Lucknow to meet businessmen. I am pleased that we have taken a major step in fulfilling the pledge we took during the UP Investors’ Summit in February,” PM Modi said adding that an investment of Rs 60,000 crore is massive.

“Some people are calling this a ground-breaking ceremony. I would call it a record-breaking ceremony. Never before in UP have we seen procedures done speedily in a short time and replacement of old systems,” Modi said hailing the state government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The projects, which are expected to give fillip to industrialisation in India’s most-populous state, were inaugurated in the presence of UP Governor Ram Naik, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and Home Minister and MP from Lucknow Rajnath Singh.

UP Minister for Industries Satish Mahana said that the projects have the potential of creating over two lakh new jobs.

Around 80 leading industrialists, including Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of Aditya Birla group, Gautam Adani, chairman of Adani group, Subhash Chandra, chairman of Essel group and Sanjeev Puri, MD, ITC, besides top magnates of other major business houses participated in the event.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who led the state in holding the successful investors summit earlier this year, said climate was very favourable for them to set up their projects in the state.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who represents the Lucknow seat in the Lok Sabha, assured on behalf of the Centre additional security for the ambitious projects in case of any requirement.