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Since 1st March, 1999
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Birthday & brother help UP shine
- Amar misses sonia, bags power project

New Delhi, Jan. 27: The BJP-led Centre’s “India Shining” campaign appeared to spring a regional counterpart today when Reliance announced a Rs 10,000-crore gas-based power plant for Uttar Pradesh.

The announcement by Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani coincided with Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s 48th birthday.

Singh, who wangled the gift from “younger brother” Ambani, was clear about what the investment meant. There can be “no feel-good (in the country) without feel-good in Uttar Pradesh. India cannot shine without Uttar Pradesh shining”, he said.

The “birthday boy” was flanked by Ambani, Amitabh Bachchan and Sahara’s Subrata Roy, who are all members of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council that organised the media conference on the occasion of Singh’s birthday.

“Today is my birthday. I hope my younger brother Ambani will give me a gift,” Singh said before the Reliance announcement.

“We are delighted to announce that the Reliance Group will set up the world’s largest gas-based 3,500-MW power project as a tribute to the vision of my late father, Dhirubhai Ambani,” the industrialist responded. He added that it would also help realise the Prime Minister’s vision of “Power for All by 2012”.

Uttar Pradesh, Ambani said, would soon become “udaharan pradesh (exemplary state), ujjwal (shining) pradesh, udyog (industrial) pradesh and above all unnatisheel (developing) pradesh.”

Politics took a backseat at the birthday bash, to which Singh had personally invited Congress chief Sonia Gandhi last week. Sonia chose to skip the celebrations at Hotel Ashoka but greeted Singh over phone.

In an Uttar Pradesh where Samajwadi leader and chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is feeling the heat of the coming general elections, the council members present today jointly said “no” to political questions from reporters.

The only hint at the emerging political equations came when Singh said the council’s primary objective was not politics but the “politics of BSP” — not the Bahujan Samaj Party of his arch foe Mayavati — but “bijli, sadak, pani”.

Encouraged by the 18-member council’s thrust on promoting the feel-good factor, Mulayam Singh announced a slew of projects to put the state on the road to fast-track development.

Ambani was emphatic that the Reliance decision to invest in Uttar Pradesh in a big way was driven only by its 170 million people that made the state the “sixth largest country” in the world.

“Political change is a process of democratic system. Our project is prompted (by a desire) to serve people. UP is the only state coming out with (a) clear power policy,” he said.

Singh said they were all in a “great hurry” to speed up development in the state. He added he and Mulayam Singh had recently met the Prime Minister and his deputy, seeking environmental clearance for the plant. The Centre’s nod is awaited.

Earlier, Bachchan said the development council has been expanded by including Nandan Neelekani, the managing director of Infosys, Ramdas Pai, educationist and chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education, and Pratap Reddy, the chairman of the Apollo group of hospitals.

Among other projects slated for Uttar Pradesh are the following from the Sahara group:

• Hi-tech housing projects in 50 cities

• A Rs 500-crore health programme

• Uttar Pradesh international trade centre

• Buddhist tourism circuit

• Low-cost drinking water.

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