The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ficci snuggles up to Modi

New Delhi, March 12: If CII can kiss and make up with Gujarat’s riot-tainted chief minister Narendra Modi, can its arch rival Ficci be far behind'

After all, money and power have no colour.

Ficci secretary general Amit Mitra flew down today to Ahmedabad to remind Modi that Ficci had never crossed swords with him the way CII had by publicly tarring him with allegations of a poor record in controlling rioting Hindutva mobs.

Mitra also offered to organise “sell Gujarat” melas in the UK, the US and western Europe, for a price tag of course.

Ficci officials here were tight-lipped on the issue stating it was “too sensitive” to talk about. But top Gujarat government officials said Ficci had offered to start road shows to sell Gujarat as an investment destination both abroad and to leading Indian cities at a price that is yet to be negotiated.

The visit by Mitra, who was accompanied by most of the top members in his team, comes within a week of CII chief Tarun Das flying down to Modi’s capital to apologise to him for “any hurt” feelings on account of barbs thrown at the chief minister by automaker Rahul Bajaj at a CII function held about a month back in Delhi and by Anu Agha of Thermax Industries at a CII annual conference in Delhi last April.

Ficci was obviously worried that the kiss-and-make-up act could see CII upstaging it in Modi’s favours, besides raking in moolah for holding Gujarat’s hand in its bid to refurbish its image before potential investors.

Gujarat is of course one of the principal industrial states in India with huge industrial districts where textile, chemicals and petrochem businesses flourish. Some 10 per cent of all factories in India are in Gujarat. Besides, it is considered a “hot” consumer market where per capita consumption expenditure is growing at a spanking 5 per cent annually.

To be able to continue to do well in this key state, any business leader or chamber would like to be on the right side of the state government.

Not that Ficci needs to be worried. Modi is still cut up about the way CII elders have been repeatedly reminding him of his riot record instead of talking about the state’s vitality as an investment destination. CII has already held two Invest Gujarat-style functions which were sponsored for by the state government in Mumbai and Delhi and both from Modi’s point of view were disasters.

Gujarat officials said Modi has decided not to attend a CII jamboree being organised at Ahmedabad on March 15.

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