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Modi lures auto firms, TN fumes

autos Updated: Jan 18, 2011 01:22 IST
Shekhar Iyer
Shekhar Iyer
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who got the Tatas Nano post the fracas in West Bengal, is now being accused of wooing away auto majors to shift their expansion projects from Tamil Nadu to Gujarat.

The move, which is being finalized after Modi met the majors in Hyderabad, is causing alarm bells to ring in the poll bound Tamil Nadu.

The auto companies had made Chennai’s neighbourhood Marmalainagar their base, giving it the nickname of “Detroit of India” when AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa was chief minister between 2001 to 2006.

A Congress MP, K S Alagiri, has petitioned commerce minister Anand Sharma, but he has been told that the Centre couldn’t do much because Gujarat is offering “better power and labour environment.”

Sharma, who spoke to the auto majors, told Alagiri that Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi should step in to prevent an exodus from his state to Gujarat.

Alagiri told HT that “if the ongoing negotiations with Gujarat succeeds, Tamil Nadu would lose at least 50,000 jobs directly and another one lakh jobs indirectly in the ancillary segment.”

The Congress MP said he had sent a letter to Karunanidhi, who asked the state industry secretary to look into it. Alagiri said Ford India and Hyundai Motor India were to start formal negotiations with the Gujarat government to put up their second and third plants of Ford India and Hyundai respectively.

Alagiri said there was no reason why they should go to Gujarat when the Tamil Nadu government was going in for massive investment in the power sector and barring a few stray incidents of industrial disputes, “there was peace.”

Alagiri said while Gujarat has been specialising in textiles, apparels, petroleum and petro chemical industry, Chennai and Pune had, in the meanwhile, emerged as automobile hubs, drawing big name of the industry from abroad.

Blaming Modi for initiating a rat race by luring the Tatas to put up the Nano plants there two years ago, he said, the Gujarat chief minister would soon urge the software industry to shift from Banglore to Ahmedabad.

“This would only lead to industrial investment getting concentrated in one State, thereby heightening haphazard growth,” he said. In neighbouring Kerala, there’s new debate over Modi.

CPI(M) leader Pinarayi Vijayan kicked off a controversy after his comment on the “efficiency” of the chief minister-cum-industry minister of an unnamed state, which was widely interpreted as an endorsement of Modi.

After his rival, chief minister V S Achuthanandan, attacked Modi’s policies in response to Vijayan’s remark, Vijayan came out with a statement that he meant Karunanidhi.