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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

Kejriwal turns on charm, business leaders smile

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 19, 2014
First Published: 01:13 IST(19/2/2014) | Last Updated: 11:40 IST(19/2/2014)

Indian industry, which was uneasy with the perceived anti-business stance of Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), seems to have to have come away reassured after their first formal meeting with the former Delhi chief minister. 

Industrialists, who attended the CII meeting where Kejriwal outlined his party’s economic vision on Monday, said his thoughts were “refreshing” and in sync with the industry ethos.

“We are satisfied… He clarified that he believed in private enterprise… He also made it clear that he is against crony capitalism… It was a welcome speech,” Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group, told HT.

“A small number of industrialists in our country are looting the country. We are against them; not against you all. If businesses are closed, who will generate employment?” he told the gathering of some of India’s leading industrialists. 

Until now, Kejriwal had been seen as an anti-corruption crusader with strong left-of-centre views on the economy that were at odds with free market principles.

Kejriwal had recently launched a scathing attack on the UPA government for its new gas pricing formula, alleging that it would only benefit a few industrial houses such as Reliance Industries and its chairman Mukesh Ambani. As chief minister of Delhi, he had also rolled back the previous Congress government’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail.

“We got the impression that he is not anti-industry,” Chandrajit Banerjee, director general, CII, said.

“Industry had not given him a chance to elucidate his thoughts on the economy. What we heard was very positive,” added Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Biocon CMD.

“From what I gathered, he is pro-business and that is reassuring,” said Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico.

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