Team Modi Steps In For Damage Control

Ahmedabad: | Updated: Feb 24 2003, 05:30am hrs
In Gujarat, the schism between the pro- and anti-Modi industrialists is almost complete. The war of words between chief minister Naren-dra Modi and the Confedera-tion of Indian Industry (CII), which first saw Mr Modi being ticked off for the post-Godhra violence last year by Rahul Bajaj and Adi Godrej at a meet in New Delhi a fortnight ago, and which later saw Mr Modi getting even by boycotting a CII-organised petroleum and mining exhibition in Ahmeda-bad a week later, has snowballed into a battle royale between Modi baiters and his loyalists among industrialists.

While on the one hand, the CII has lost no opportunity in the recent past to rake up the Gujarat violence in public, the CII Gujarat chapter is already rueing the day when the CII at the national level took it upon itself to rake up the law and order issue in the state without consulting them. And, even as it is bending over backwards to wash its hands off the statements made by Mr Bajaj and Mr Godrej, a new group of industrialists has decided to bat for their chief minister.

Known as the Resurgent Group of Gujarat (RGG), the group, comprising bigwigs like the Nirma Chairman Karsenbhai Patel, Cadila Pharmaceuticals Chairman IA Modi, Ashima group chairman Chintan Parikh, Adani group Chairman Gautam Adani and the Bakeri group Chairman Anil Bakeri, has decided to combat the campaign against Mr Modi and post-Godhra Gujarat.

Echoing the chief ministers clarion call of protecting Gujarats Gaurav (the pride of Gujarat), the RGG has, in a scathing indictment of CIIs criticism, labeled it a concerted attempt to tarnish the image of the state. Dismissing the violence last year as an unfortunate social mishap, the RGG, in a lengthy statement issued some days ago after an in-camera meeting held with local CII officials, justifies its move to take up cudgels on Mr Modis behalf on the grounds that all citizens of Gujarat involved with trade and industry have no option but to rise to the occasion from a non-political platform and condemn such efforts that damage the image of the state in the international arena.

Ominously, it goes on to add that forces causing embarrassment to the state globally need not misunderstand the peace loving and tolerant attitude of Gujarat as its weakness. To give a befitting answer to these forces interested in reopening past wounds of the communally charged atmosphere, the people of Gujarat are determined to reconstruct the future of Gujarat on the sound footings of science, technology and management. The tomorrow belongs to us. The glory of Gujarat will always remain untarnished.

As if this was not enough, RGGs spirited defence of Mr Modi and his state has been followed by yet another industrial group, the 175-member strong Gujarat Electronics & Software Industries Associa-tion (Gesia). In a statement issued on Friday, Gesia released a statement flaying the unnecessary criticism being inflicted upon Gujarat for so-called security, law and order situation. The statement, which attributes the diatribe against Gujarat on growing competitiveness, both in the international and domestic arenas, to attract investment, maintains that if they claim that Gujarat is not a safe investment, then there is no other country in the world which can be called secure. ...Gesia decries such attem-pts wholesomely and we appe-al to the industry, government and common man to give a fitting reply to this engineered drive to malign Gujarat.

Meanwhile, the CII Gujarat chapter officials are scurrying for cover as they face the prospect of being isolated among industry chambers, with even the Gujarat Cham-ber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) deciding to express solidarity with the RGG. It is believed that the CII is planning some firefighting and may release its official stand on the Gujarat issue in the next few days. That being the case, in Modiland, at least, Modi-baiters face the prospect of being routed by Team Modi.