The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 8 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Agra tastes pie Calcutta lost

Lucknow, Jan. 7: Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is gearing to showcase his state before global investors, an opportunity Mamata Banerjee missed when the Centre shifted the venue from Calcutta to Agra following her pullout from the ruling alliance.

The global Partnership Summit, one of the biggest events in the country’s annual business calendar, will be held jointly by the Union commerce ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Agra from January 27 to 29.

The CII today laid out an elaborate programme for the event, where Akhilesh will lead a team to advertise the opportunities that await investors in Uttar Pradesh.

Business delegations from countries across the world — such as the US, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands and Spain — have confirmed participation, the CII said.

Had the event been held in Calcutta — a year and a half after the end of the communists’ 34-year rule — the global delegates would have had an opportunity to get a feel of eastern India’s potential as an investment destination, a CII member said.

“But her campaign against FDI has cast a cloud on the (Bengal) chief minister’s image,” the member added.

Kiron Chopra, chairperson of the CII’s Uttar Pradesh council, attempted to bring out the contrast between the situations of Akhilesh and Mamata.

“No negative preconceived perceptions are attached to Akhilesh Yadav while the West Bengal chief minister has to explain a lot about her industrial policy after the Singur imbroglio engineered by her party. She has her own compulsions,” Chopra said.

Commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma had announced the venue shift in September, days after Trinamul dumped the UPA over its FDI policy.

“It would not be appropriate to invite corporate leaders of the world and the global investors to Calcutta when the government (there) is totally opposed to FDI,” Sharma had said.

On January 27, the meeting will discuss a possible new format for global partnerships in the face of faltering growth in advanced and emerging economies alike.

The following day, a special session on “Uttar Pradesh — Land of Opportunities” will see Akhilesh speak on the changing industrial environment under his rule. He will then interact with the delegates and answer their queries on the state, a state official said.

On January 29, the meeting will discuss “rapidly emerging global value chains and partnership with India and Africa”.

CII members admit that concern about law and order in Uttar Pradesh persists but say that Akhilesh is expected to assure investors on the steps he has taken to improve the situation.

“The state will demonstrate the highlights of mega leather clusters, IT hubs, mega food parks, diary projects, roads and expressways, international airports at Agra and Kushinagar...” Kushal Raj Sharma, special secretary, industrial development, said.

Although Akhilesh’s Samajwadi Party too opposes FDI in multi-brand retail, his government has not allowed politics to jeopardise the state’s industrialisation drive, state industry department officials said.

“Whatever moves Uttar Pradesh has taken so far are in strict accordance with the Union government’s rules,” said the state’s infrastructure and industrial development commissioner, Anil Kumar Gupta.

He added: “If a company like Volvo shortlists two states — Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh — as probable sites for a plant, I think Uttar Pradesh is in the race.”