| (From left) InterGlobe managing director Rahul Bhatia, ICC president Shrivardhan Goenka and Essar Group chairman Shashi Ruia in Calcutta on Saturday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, July 21: Two captains of industry did not mince their words today while criticising some of the government’s policies.
While InterGlobe managing director Rahul Bhatia slammed the Centre for favouring a section of private airlines in India, Essar Group chairman Shashi Ruia lamented the uncertainty that had gripped both India and the global economy. Ruia blamed the atmosphere of witch hunting and persecution in the country for affecting the investment and business climate.
InterGlobe operates the budget airline IndiGo. Without mentioning the name of any entity in particular, Bhatia said the government seemed to be tinkering with the aviation policy, including allowing more foreign direct investment in this sector, to help some players.
Speaking at the 84th annual general meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce here today, Bhatia said the North Block should allow domestic players to operate more in the overseas skies to expand their business. “We would love to fly overseas,” Bhatia added.
“There is a feeling that IndiGo is against FDI in aviation. We are not,” he said. But he indicated that the government was considering a policy tweak to bail out some of his beleaguered competitors.
Liquor baron Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines, which competes with IndiGo, has been facing severe financial crunch and opening up the sector to foreign players could potentially allow the company to bring in a foreign partner with deep pockets.
However, Shashi Ruia is in favour of more foreign investments. “You do not always get the right price from the local market,” he said.
Last year, Essar, founded by Shashi and his brother Ravi, sold its stake in telecom business to Vodafone for $5 billion.