The Telegraph
Saturday , January 18 , 2014
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AAP reaches out to industry leaders

Bangalore, Jan. 17: The Karnataka unit of the Aam Aadmi Party is in damage control mode after the Delhi government’s rollback of FDI in multi-brand retail drew criticism.

Prithvi Reddy, the party’s state convener who is also part of the team preparing the party’s national manifesto, is reaching out to corporate leaders and met former Infosys director Mohandas Pai today.

The initiative is being seen as an attempt to explain the party’s economic outlook well before the Lok Sabha polls, especially after budget airline pioneer and recent AAP entrant Captain Gopinath criticised the FDI decision.

To a question if the FDI rollback had created suspicion in the minds of investors about the party, Reddy said: “Yes, but we need their support to formulate our economic policy. Our manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls should reflect the views of all the corporate leaders who gave us their inputs.”

Reddy did not give the names of the other leaders he was talking to but the buzz was that a meeting with Kiran Mazumdar Shaw of Biocon was also lined up today. He would not say if he also planned to meet Gopinath.

Pai, who is now with the Manipal Group of Educational Institutions, appeared happy with the meeting. “It’s a very good initiative they have taken to reach out to the corporate sector. All I can say is that they must take a pro-people policy,” he said.

He, however, admitted concerns over the party’s economic policy, following the FDI decision. “There are some confusions regarding this. But it’s wrong to say foreign chains would kill local businesses. If that’s the case, Reliance, Big Bazaar and Foodworld would have finished all the corner shops. I hope they’ll have an investor-friendly economic policy that would benefit the nation,” Pai said.

In Delhi, the party’s media-in-charge, Dipak Vajpayee, did not rule out taking a different stand on FDI at the national level. “The decision to reverse the FDI in retail policy is the decision of a state government taken in the interest of the local traders. That does not spell out our policy at the national level. Our stand will be finalised after consultations and feedback from the people,” he said.

A meeting is lined up on Sunday in Delhi where AAP leaders, including Reddy, will discuss the party’s economic policy. Some representatives from the corporate sector and financial experts are expected to attend the meeting.

While sources said a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India is among those helping the AAP draw up its vision document, Reddy refused to give names.

“I can only confirm that we have been consulting several big names over the past six months, but cannot give details since they too want it that way,” said Reddy, a city-based entrepreneur who was active in the Anna Hazare movement before he joined forces with Arvind Kejriwal.

Reddy said a vision document was of great priority as it would clear all doubts regarding the party’s stand on several economic issues.

In the past, Reddy had told The Telegraph that the AAP was not heading the socialist way as many might suspect. “No, we have nothing to do with socialism or communism, or Left or Right. We accept all the good elements from everywhere for the good of our country and the people.”

The AAP wants to come up with its manifesto for the 2014 polls by March 31. It is now preparing a draft manifesto that would be put out in the public domain for people’s feedback before it is finalised.