Manmohan Singh with LK Advani during Army Day celebrations in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Jan. 15: Anil Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittals endorsement of Narendra Modi for Prime Minister has the Congress asking if corporate India has a social conscience and whether the Centres efforts to cushion the shocks of the global meltdown mean nothing to it.
Its a bit like biting the hand that feeds you. The government was quick to address industrys worries by unveiling not one but two stimuli packages. All this apparently means nothing to the captains, a Congress source said.
While Anil Ambani and Mittal yesterday said they would like to see Modi as Prime Minister, other captains of industry who also attended the Vibrant Gujarat summit were equally effusive in his praise. Ratan Tata, Kumaramangalam Birla and Mukesh Ambani had also spoken highly of the BJP chief minister.
Among Modis endorsers this week, at least two are counted as close to the Congress.
It was a clear message that the corporate brass want single-party rule and, if that is not feasible, a hands-on person who has little use for procedures and formalities and delivers on his words. Clearly, Modi has marketed himself as an unabashed reforms votary in letter, spirit and practice. We have not been able to do it, even after the Left pulled out of our government. We should have pushed through one or two major reform measures but we waffled, a Congress minister said.
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addresses a private meeting at Mumbais Trident Hotel this weekend, a source close to him said, he will reassure the audience of industrialists that India is in safe hands and that investors — domestic or foreign — neednt worry because the country will be able to weather the storm unleashed by terror and corporate fraud. The effort, the source said, would be to project the Satyam scam as an aberration.
Singh has been telling colleagues that Brand India should not suffer at the end of his tenure.
Congress sources are firm their party draws its strength and sustenance from the aam aadmi and not the privileged but they admit that post-liberalisation, political parties have to factor in industry while framing policies. The committee writing the manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls flagged off the exercise with meetings with industry representatives and then reached out to other interest groups.
Although upset by the corporate support for Modi, the Congress also sees a silver lining. Unwittingly, the corporate sector has muddled the leadership question in the BJP by putting Modi on a par with (L.K.) Advani. The shadow Prime Minister has competition from Shekhawat and Modi, a source said.
If the BJP played up industrys backing for Modi, the Congress had an answer: How can you endorse a man in whom even the Supreme Court doesnt have the confidence that he and his administration can conduct a fair and free investigation (in the 2002 communal violence)? How can you endorse a person whos incapable of getting a US visa because of his abysmal human rights record? The last time when a fatal attraction between the capitalists and the fascists fructified, the world paid a price, said Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.