Amid the raging Stayzilla controversy, Karnataka information technology minister Priyank Kharge on Saturday said no industry, including startups and vendors, are above law and should function within the parameters and anybody raising money should pay up.
Yogendra Vasupal, co-founder of Stayzilla, was arrested on March 14 for alleged cheating and criminal intimidation.
“Stayzilla controversy has been blown out of proportion. However, the advise I would give in this whole episode is that there are rules and regulations for everyone - whether it is for SMEs, startups or big corporations.
“If you have raised or taken money, you have to pay up. You cannot say I will not pay,” he told PTI.
Asked whether advertising firm Jigsaw alone should be blamed for the entire Stayzilla episode, as alleged by Vasupal, Kharge said he would not take sides.
“As I am a part of the government, I have to support entrepreneurs in all fields and hence I cannot take either the side of Stayzilla or Jigsaw.”
Jigsaw had alleged Stayzilla had defrauded it to the tune of about Rs 1.68 crore for services it rendered since last year.
On March 15, the minister had earlier tweeted: “Spoke to Dr Manikandan, IT minister for his intervention in @stayzilla case. I am sure he will help if @YogiVaspal is on right side of law.”
The minister had sounded supporting Stayzilla’s Vasupal and ignoring Jigsaw’s Aditya CS. When asked if his comment was too early, Kharge said he stood by what he had commented and clarified he had not endorsed Vasupal, but tried helping him, provided he was on the right side of the law.
He said there was no question of giving one-sided support to either the startup community or vendors.
“If some body does, it is like endorsing Vijay Mallya who has left the Indian shores as a defaulter,” he said.
“If you owe somebody money or there’s a violation of rules I cannot say - if he or she is running a startup, therefore please let him free. Can we endorse Vijay Mallya?” he asked.
“If he or she is on the right path, as a custodian of the eco-system, I have to ensure they get justice,” he added.
Kharge also disagreed with the “startup is in danger” slogan raised by the industry during the entire Stayzilla episode. “... Can it be? Innovation cannot be suppressed. Startup is all about innovation and ideations. You are saying that because of Stayzilla incident 7,000 odd startups will shut shop? Not a single will close,”he said.
To a query, he refused to endorse the notion that the start up bubble would burst. “On the contrary it is a cyclic rise and fall of businesses in any sector,” he said.
“Valuation is a flawed business model if you ask me.This discount-based model adopted by some e-commerce giants is basically to get as many people addicted to you. They are formulae to woo customers by offering discounts,” he said.