Keralas Global Investment Meet Gets A Reluctant Salesman

Thiruvananthapuram: | Updated: Dec 23 2002, 05:30am hrs
GIM or Global Investment Meet is no longer a forbidden word in Kerala Opposition leader VS Achuthanandans little red book. And the biggest sigh of relief on this development came from PK Kunhalikutty, the state industry minister, who wanted to show off the Opposition leaders consensus for Keralas Rs 50,000-crore investor hunt. Invitation cards for the Global Investment Meet in January can be printed at last.

After braving a week of ire over his anti-Asian Developm-ent Bank (ADB) tirade, the CPM leader, Mr Achuthanandan, dropped his Doubting Thomas stance on GIM and agreed to co-host the inaugural session with chief minister AK Antony. But then, if he is going soft on GIM, it is only to sharpen his stand against the ADB-prescribed reforms, say some observers.

Mention the ADB loan conditions and the 79-year old hero of the Kayoor peasant revolt sees red. Sometimes even to the point of dismissing all propriety. What if the LDF (Left Democratic Front) does not pay back the ADB loan if it comes back to power in the next elections Not a paise What if the LDF throws out all the 11 IAS officials handpicked by ADB to implement the reform he asked defiantly at a public meeting on Monday.

How can an Opposition leader display blatant ignorance of a sovereign guarantee made by the Centre for a state government to an international lending agency UDF (United Democratic Front) leaders wondered. This is poor economics, poor taste, poor politics, said the bureaucrats. All LDF leaders have been unison in the focus on Centre-state relations in the anti-ADB tirade, but this time nobody broke the silence.

But the Opposition leader sprang surprise when he said yes to the question that Mr Kunhalikutty had been popping for the last eight weeks regarding co-hosting the Global Investment Meet inaugural session. But all this was not without Mr Achutanandans famed touch of study tours. He made a whirlwind visit to the 55 companies in Thiruvananthap-uram Technopark to assess the industrial relations before finally succumbing to the GIM wave.

He will share the Global Investment Meet podium with the UDF chief minister. Mr Achuthanandan has always been an ideologist who takes his role as Opposition leader seriously. Employees tell me the working atmosphere is perfect, he explains.

If a reluctant compliment is the best sales slogan, Keralas Global Investment Meet has just won it. Even if for wrong reasons.