Gu­jarat Cos Jump on the Modi Band­wagon to Boost Vis­i­bil­ity

Firms up­beat on ‘na­tion-builder’ PM and ex­pect him to en­cour­age all to play a big­ger role in In­dia’s growth

The Economic Times - - Companies - VI­JAYA RATHORE

Behram Me­hta, head of an Ahmed­abad­based com­pany that bot­tles Aava brand of wa­ter, has been camp­ing at the lux­u­ri­ous Taj Man Singh ho­tel in Delhi these days. Me­hta has been meet­ing busi­ness part­ners to give shape to an all-In­dia ex­pan­sion plan, and ev­ery­one seems to be keen to play ball, as he hails from “Modi-land”. Me­hta, known to host top busi­ness­men in­clud­ing Tata group chair­man Cyrus Pal­lonji Mistry at his beau­ti­ful gar­den house by the Sabar­mati in Ahmed­abad, landed in Delhi along with a host of Gu­jarati busi­ness­men to at­tend Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s swear­ing-in cer­e­mony on Mon­day. Me­hta says he now plans to come to Delhi fre­quently and in­vest time here. “Now that Mr Modi is here, we bet­ter be here too,” says Me­hta. The stock of Gu­jarati busi­ness has been on an up­swing ever since Naren­dra Modi won the gen­eral elec­tions to be ap­pointed In­dia’s 15th prime min­is­ter. Like Me­hta, sev­eral Gu­jarat­based busi­ness­men such as Gau­tam Adani, Za­far Saresh­wala, owner of Par­soli Mo­tors (he ran a cam­paign against Modi af­ter the ri­ots but even­tu­ally be­came a big sup­porter), Sud­hir Me­hta of Tor­rent Group, Pankaj Pa­tel of Zy­dus Cadilla and Jaxay Shah of Savvy group, among oth­ers were vis­i­ble at the Rash­tra­p­ati Bhawan with the likes of the Am­ba­nis and Ruias. Am­ba­nis, who are also Gu­jaratis but op­er­ate out of Mum­bai and the Ruais of Es­sar, also have ma­jor businesses in Gu­jarat. It is not just them, even other com­pa­nies and brands have been quick on their feet to en­hance their vis­i­bil­ity on the na­tional map. Gu­jarat-based lo­cal com­pa­nies, lit­tle known to the world out­side, put out front page ad­ver­tise­ments in na­tional dailies. One of them was Ganesh Hous­ing. “Dur­ing his (Modi) stint as the Gu­jarat chief min­is­ter, a lot of Gu­jarati com­pa­nies have grown big. Putting out con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sages is a way of thank­ing him,” says Shekhar G Pa­tel, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Ganesh Hous­ing, a .` 350-crore real es­tate firm, which put out ads for its up­com­ing project.

On the same day, an ad is­sued by Adani Group, to an­nounce a res­i­den­tial project in Mum­bai, said: “It takes a na­tion-builder to re­de­fine lux­ury liv­ing”. As­sum­ing that the na­tionbuilder ti­tle was for Modi, Adani seems to putting his money in the right place. The Ahmed­abad­based in­dus­tri­al­ist, whose busi­ness spans from ports to power plants and coal mines across the world, has been at­tempt­ing to re­brand his group as a cred­i­ble global en­tity. Adani faced a lot of flak dur­ing the polls for his prox­im­ity to Modi. Shares of his com­pa­nies have been soar­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion of his for­tunes turn­ing favourably in the new regime. The Gu­jarati com­mu­nity is known for its busi­ness acu­men and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit. From the traders of olden days, they have emerged as the big­gest block of busi­ness­men in the coun­try, with the Am­bani broth­ers leading from the front. Gu­jarati busi­ness­men had sup­ported Ma­hatma Gandhi dur­ing the Free­dom move­ment, and many Gu­jarati lead­ers such as Sar­dar Pa­tel have played key role in gov­ern­ments in In­de­pen­dent In­dia. “Need­less to say, hav­ing one of our own as the Prime Min­is­ter of the coun­try is a mat­ter of pride. We call it Gu­jarati As­mita,” says one busi­ness­man from Ra­jkot, who came down all the way to watch Modi's swear­ing-in cer­e­mony. “There is noth­ing wrong in it,” says Sunil Parekh, who ad­vices sev­eral large Gu­jarat­based com­pa­nies and is a mem­ber ad­vi­sory board of Vi­brant Gu­jarat, Modi’s bi­en­nial event meant to woo do­mes­tic and for­eign busi­ness into his state. “There is a cer­tainly com­fort in the fact that Mr Modi is PM. He is ef­fi­cient, and will en­cour­age ev­ery­one to play a big­ger role in the na­tion’s growth.” San­jay Lalb­hai, chair­man of world's big­gest denim-maker Arvind Mills says that like all In­dian businesses, even Gu­jarat businesses would ben­e­fit from In­dia’s growth. “When the econ­omy grows, all the small and medium com­pa­nies based in Gu­jarat will ben­e­fit like ev­ery­one else,” he says. An equally ex­cited Piruz Kham­batta, chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Rasna, one of the first Gu­jarat-based brands apart from the likes of Amul and Nirma, which went na­tional, says Rasna plans to set up new pro­cess­ing unit out­side of Gu­jarat shortly. He plans to make a pre­sen­ta­tion to the PM soon, some­thing made pos­si­ble be­cause of their Gu­jarat con­nec­tion. “Gu­jarat has played a very im­por­tant role in food pro­cess­ing sec­tor and we hope to play a larger role go­ing ahead,” he said. Ear­lier this month, when Amul an­nounced set­ting up of its new man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in Varanasi, many said Amul had fol­lowed Modi. But Amul’s plans to set up a new dairy pro­cess­ing plant in the holy city had no con­nec­tion with Modi's vic­tory there, said RS Sodhi, MD of Amul. He added Amul has al­ways been a na­tional brand.

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