Apprehensions of an underwhelming turnout came true as Bengal Leads-2013 — the mega investment-promotion event by the West Bengal government — became a study in contrast to the recently concluded “Vibrant Gujarat” meet as far as the presence of industry bigwigs was concerned.
While such titans from the private sector as Cyrus Mistry, Anil Ambani, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata and YC Deveshwar were, as anticipated, conspicuous by their absence, the show failed to even attract the heads of big public sector undertakings (PSUs), such as the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) and ONGC, among others.
“Is the SAIL chairman here? Is Mr Deveshwar here?” chief minister Mamata Banerjee asked in vain during the brief question & answer session, since neither of the tycoons was present.
The show was mainly dominated by representatives from small and medium enterprises, with only a few noteworthy names, such as Sanjiv and GP Goenka, CK Dhanuka, Sanjay Budhia, Rajive Kaul, Sandipan Chakrabarty and the presidents of the local chambers of commerce, in attendance. More surprising was the absence of even a single representative from Jindal Steel, the conglomerate that is supposed to set up a mega steel plant at Salboni, in West Midnapore district. Although ITC chairman YC Deveshwar did not attend, executive director Kurush N Grant represented the company.
Missing PSU bigwigs did raise a few eyebrows. “We expected at least some chiefs, or topmost officials, from the leading public sector undertakings. The logistic complexities might be a reason (for them not showing up),” an official from the state commerce and industries department said.
During the brief question and answer session, the chief minister mainly fielded questions from the representatives of small, medium and lesser-known companies. Neither representatives from foreign consulates nor any of the important personages present took an active part, barring a two-line statement by Patton Group managing director Sanjay Budhia and the singing of songs by Dhunseri chief CKD hanuka, on the insistence of the chief minister.