Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi today dubbed Reliance Industries as a "parallel state" that exercised power "brazenly" over natural and financial resources.
"We used to talk of blackmoney as a parallel economy and so it continues to be. But Reliance is a parallel State. I do not know of any country where one single firm exercises such power so brazenly, over the natural resources, financial resources, professional resources and, ultimately, over human resources as the company of the Ambanis.
"From (B R) Ambedkar who spoke of economic democracy to Ambani who represents a techno-commercial monopoly of unprecedented scale, is a far cry indeed," he said delivering the 15th D P Kohli Memorial lecture organised to mark the year-long golden jubilee celebrations of the CBI.
Talking about the economic health of the country, Gandhi said the economy had seen some phenomenal successes with many homeless getting houses and other items of necessity.
"Our economy is startling if you do not want to see its other side. If you see that side, you will see it is schizophrenic. Corporate greed has crossed all bounds, as has corporate tastelessness," he said.
Holding that money was affecting democracy, he said, "Our democracy is large, vibrant, but is also deeply flawed. Size and scale cannot and do not in themselves validate a democracy. There is something called quality also.
"The monarch, the voter, is powerful but his power is constantly subverted by blandishment. Money is at our democracy's throat. Money can and does do worse," Gandhi said at the function where CBI rank and file led by its Director Ranjit Sinha were present.
The theme of the lecture was "Eclipse at Noon: Shadows over India's Conscience".