“Modi dreams with his eyes open,” said Anil Ambani, even calling him a “king among kings”. Anand Mahindra complimented growth in the state and said: “It’s now time to see a Gujarat model being replicated in China”. Tata reiterated a statement he made on a previous occasion that “One would be stupid not to invest in Gujarat”. And Mukesh Ambani said Reliance Industries BSE -1.21 % has already committed an investment of 1 lakh crore in the state in the next three years.
However, the ‘Modi for PM’ chorus was conspicuous in its absence, except for the rousing cheer that came from the crowd when a delegate from the Russian province Astrakhan wished Modi well for 2014. Modi himself donned a subdued avatar this time unlike his firebrand self in the past, also discarding a business suit for a traditional attire.
Companies signed MoUs worth 20 lakh crore in 2011 and investment commitments worth 12 lakh crore were made in 2009. This time, there have been no big announcements on fresh investment so far.
Most industrialists chose not to speak to the media after the inaugural session, which was attended by nearly 7,000 people. But those who did, said they saw in him an ideal leader. “Nehru advocated higher participation of the state in the economy, whereas Modi is the first politician to publicly outline that government should act as a facilitator by having conducive policies, robust infrastructure and ease of doing business,” Ajit Gulabchand, chairman of Hindustan Construction CompanyBSE -5.06 %, said.
But the BJP’s main rival, the Congress, which hopes to return to power for a third consecutive time in 2014, didn’t seem too impressed by all the praise. Party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said: “This is nothing out of the ordinary. You must understand Vibrant Gujarat is an investment summit. Whenever such a summit happens in a state, almost all chief ministers are praised in glowing terms by industrialists.”
The Vibrant Gujarat summit is the biggest business show in the country. This year, nearly 1,800 foreign delegates from 105 countries are attending the three-day show at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. Previous editions of the summit are remembered for big investments committed by companies for the state and the credit the Modi government derived from the numbers.
This time, Shashi Ruia of Essar Group promised to invest Rs 15,000 crore and Jubilant Lifesciences’ Hari Bhartia committed Rs 1,500 crore. It learnt that Gautam Adani has plans to invest Rs 5,000 crore and ABG Shipyard said it has made a proposal to invest Rs 5,000 crore in a greenfield shipyard. A local businessman said there was a request from Modi that they refrain from making investment pitches.