Investments can wait, elections can’t. Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan cancelled his planned visit to the World Economic Forum, to be held at Davos, Switzerland, from January 25 to 29, in view of the impending civic elections.
Chavan has decided not to attend because he wants to be in Maharashtra and lead the Congress in the zilla parishad and civic polls, to be held on February 7 and 16 respectively.
Chavan was expected to meet several top leaders from the global business community and convince them to invest in the state.
Congress sources said Chavan has a lot at stake in these polls, which are like a scaled-down version if the assembly polls.
“The Congress wants the CM to win the first-ever major test. In such a situation, a week-long trip abroad would invite criticism from Chavan’s detractors about his leadership skills,” said a Congress leader, requesting anonymity.
The CM’s office confirmed that his Davos trip has been cancelled. Chavan was unavailable for comment.
In Chavan’s absence, the chief secretary and industry secretary are likely to represent the state.
Chavan is not the only chief minister to have cancelled the Davos visit because of political compulsions. His predecessor, Vilasrao Deshmukh, skipped the Davos forum in January 2007 as the dates clashed with the campaigning period for the civic and ZP polls. The state in 2007 had got a call from Davos after 12 years. Deshmukh visited Davos in 2008.
Chavan had been enthusiastic about participating in the global event, making his agenda clear when the World Economic Forum, in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry, hosted its annual India Economic Summit for the first time in Mumbai in November 2011. He had said he wanted to market the state’s growth potential to the world economic leaders.
The CM had told the Mumbai forum that he was keen to create more industrial towns - in Nashik, Aurangabad, Satara, Nanded and Nagpur – in association with global partners.