It was a healthy competition between Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda as they tried to attract attention and investment from a gathering of industrialists and businessmen by projecting their states--- which have already registered a double digit growth rate---as among the most investor-friendly.
The style in which the two made their sales pitch of fast track development and people-driven reforms was different. Hooda was matter of fact, as he spelt out the benefits of investing in his landlocked state whose small size belied the large opportunities it offered.
There were no flourishes in his speech as he talked of reforms and growth. Modi, on his part, was more in tune with the setting and the times. He presented a short film and followed it up with a stirring speech that fetched him several rounds of applause. But he pointedly refused a question and answer session, which denied Hooda also the chance of an interaction.
"Feel Gujarat aur main aapko fill kar doonga'' (Feel Gujarat and I will give you your fill of profit), Modi told the annual general meeting of FICCI. With a loss of only 0.5% man days, the state, he claimed, was poised for a giant leap, with investment opportunities available in every sector, including textiles, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, IT and IT enabled services, biotechnology and infrastructure sectors like power, roads, ports, industrial parks and the 33 special economic zones (SEZ) that are on the anvil.
Drawing a distinction between Gujarat and other states, he noted that while it was "maut" (suicides) for BT cultivating farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, it was "Marutis" for those in Gujarat.
Through the two Global Investors Summits in 2003 and 2005, the state has already received 302 investment proposals amounting to Rs 172,000 crore (US$38.2 billion) and the third summit is slated this week. He offered power, water, connectivity, roads and an industry-friendly environment to potential investors while speaking on the theme of "Rising India: The Challenge of Growth, Governance and Equal Opportunities."
Hooda, on his part, pitched Haryana as the "perfect destination" for investment, with Gurgaon's status as India's new corporate capital showcasing what the state has to offer: modern communication network, world class accommodation and cosmopolitan ambience (because of the presence of multinational corporations). The 2005 industrial policy has already brought in an investment of Rs 10,000 crore and projects worth Rs 40,000 crore are already in the pipeline. This includes FDI proposals of Rs1380 crore, he said.
"The state has received 68 proposals for setting up SEZs with an investment of Rs1, 75,000 crore and employment potential for 20 lakh persons.... They offer excellent opportunities for setting up of export oriented units,'' he said.
Later while talking to newspersons, he denied any controversy over land acquisition, stating that his government has worked out a rehabilitation package for farmers.
Hooda spelt out the different areas in which opportunities for investment existed, included various theme parks, transport hubs, centers of learning and skill upgradation, power projects, hotels, and rapid mass transport system. The Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway was also being developed as a global corridor.
Both leaders earlier addressed the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas where they invited Persons of Indian Origins to invest in their states.