The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CII says sorry to miffed Modi
- Apology comes after boycott by taunt-stung CM

Ahmedabad, March 6: The country’s foremost business lobby, the Confederation of Indian Industry, has apologised to Narendra Modi for the hurt it might have caused to the Gujarat chief minister through questions raised about the riots at forums hosted by it.

Tarun Das, the CII’s director-general, flew in from Delhi to meet Modi in capital Gandhinagar to say sorry and rebuild bridges with the chief minister.

Modi had been so annoyed with the CII that he boycotted an exhibition organised by it in Ahmedabad three weeks ago. He was to be the chief guest at the opening ceremony, but did not turn up. Nor did he depute any of his Cabinet colleagues to stand in for him, sending a clear signal to the organisers that he was unhappy.

The reason for his unhappiness lies in two recent incidents where he had to suffer uncomfortable moments, in Mumbai and Delhi. On both occasions, the CII was the organiser.

In Mumbai, a human rights activist trespassed into a CII event and shouted: “What is the butcher of Gujarat doing here'”

Although the CII had nothing do with it, Modi was angry that this was allowed to happen. Larsen and Toubro chief A.M. Naik tried to soothe the chief minister’s ruffled feathers by declaring how committed his company and industry was to Gujarat, but Modi — basking in the glory of a thumping election victory that he thought would quieten all contrary voices — does not seem to have forgotten it.

In Delhi, he was asked by such business stalwarts and CII veterans as Rahul Bajaj and Jamshyd Godrej whether the law and order situation was stable enough for industry to go and invest in his state. “You come with your friends to Gujarat and I’ll answer all your questions,” an angry Modi had retorted.

Without at least a working relationship with a state government, it becomes difficult for a business lobby to operate and there was pressure on the CII to patch up with the chief minister.

It was in this background that Das met Modi to urge him to renew the partnership between the government and the CII for the “rapid growth, development and prosperity of Gujarat’’. The meeting was held at the request of the CII.

In a statement, the chamber said Das told the chief minister that CII was “very sorry’’.

Conveying its strong commitment to Gujarat, Das said the CII would never wish to hurt, offend or cause pain to any chief minister and there was never any intention to do so to Modi.

He told the chief minister that the CII had had the honour to conduct various activities in the state and wished to continue its work. As an institution of industry, it would work with the government sincerely, seriously and in a sustainable manner.

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