A year after the United Kingdom (UK) ended the diplomatic boycott imposed on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi after the 2002 riots in the state, British Petroleum (BP) chief executive Bob Dudley shared the dais with Modi in Gandhinagar on Saturday.
Dudley was guest of honour at the convocation ceremony of the Gujarat government-promoted Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU).
Mukesh Ambani, CMD of the British energy major’s partner Reliance Industries Limited, was also present as he is chairman of the PDPU board.
“Gujarat features prominently in BP’s plans in India,” said Dudley.
“BP is set to expand its presence in India, because India is a major energy market and consumption in the country will double in the next 20 years.”
BP is the world’s third largest publicly traded energy company.
In October 2012, British high commissioner James Bevan met Modi in Gandhinagar and ended the 10-year boycott, a move spurred by business and investment concerns.
Gujarat is one of the most industrialised states in India, and Bevan had clarified that the UK was engaging with the Gujarat government and not “endorsing an individual.”
In a press statement before the meeting, British foreign minister Hugo Swire had said, “This will allow us to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest and to explore opportunities for closer cooperation.”
The boycott was imposed on Modi on grounds of large-scale violations of human rights during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Just like the United States, the UK had also denied a visa to the divisive figure.
The Gujarat CM had allegedly failed to stop the massacre of thousands of Muslims in the 2002 communal riots.
Modi, now the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, has always denied the allegations and the charges were not proven in court.
On Saturday, Modi delivered the convocation address at PDPU, wherein he slammed the UPA government for “neglecting the youth.”
He said the Congress was trying to use the youth to come to power, while he wanted to “empower the youth.”
Mukesh Ambani also addressed the students, and described Modi as an “inspiration for the youth in the country.”