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Industry sways to BJP's mantra - The Business Standard

Mayank Mishra ()
January 15, 1998

Title: Industry sways to BJP's mantra
Author: Mayank Mishra
Publication: The Business Standard
Date: January 15, 1998

The three-day partnership summit organised by the Confederation
of Indian Industry (CH) in Chennai last week saw business
confidence on the upswing largely due to the growing anticipation
of a stable, Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre.

"The upbeat mood is partly due to the perception that Bharatiya
Janata Party is coming to power with an absolute majority and the
country will have a stable government for five years," said one
of the participants.

Sonia Gandhi's decision to campaign for Congress may have
enthused the rank and rile of the party, but did not cut much ice
with the business community which reckons the arrival of the BJP
as a foregone conclusion.

The BJP's swadeshi slogan has brought it closer to a section of
Indian businessmen who have experienced stiff competition from
multinational companies.

"The BJP is a favourite with the business community for several
reasons. One, it is seen as a cadre-based party which has kept
its ethical profile intact except on few occasions. Secondly, a
section of the Indian business community has developed cold feet
with regard to the unchecked entry of MNCs. The BJP's swadeshi
slogan appeals to this group," another participant said.

The other factor contributing to the confidence is assuring words
>from leaders of the three major political formations, the BJP,
the Congress and the United Front, that industry needed
favourable treatment and reforms would continue.

Murasoli Maran of the United Front, Jaswant Singh of the BJP and
Rajesh Pilot of the Congress have all spoken of the
irreversibility of reforms despite disagreeing over its speed and
foreign investment. Most Indian businessmen feel since all the
political formations have been tried, the BJP deserved a chance.

What gives the party an edge is its "charismatic leadership" as
against the "disintegrating Congress:' "No one can match Atal
Behari Vajpayee's charisma. Least of all, Sitaram Kesri," quipped
another participant.

The business community also expects an economic recovery in the
last quarter of the current fiscal following the spectacular
success of the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) and
the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission.

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