‘States will seek bigger role in foreign policy’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of People in Beijing, China on Friday. Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and Maharastra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis are also seen.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, one of two Chief Ministers accompanying Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Chinese state and provincial leaders’ forum, says that other States will soon follow suit.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Ms. Patel said “the role of States will grow [in foreign policy making] because they will start demanding a bigger role themselves” after seeing the benefits. Besides accompanying Mr. Modi to several events, including a joint Taichi-Yoga demonstration, Ms. Patel and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis have been visiting various companies in and around Beijing to make a pitch for investment.

Telecom project

On Friday, Ms. Patel visited Huawei’s facilities, as discussions are under way with the telecom giant, who already has the biggest facility in Bangalore, to set up more operations in Gujarat. Ms. Patel also told The Hindu that coordination between Indian States involved in international projects must increase, given the recent experience of Japanese and Chinese infrastructure groups involved in the $100 billion Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor (DMIC).

Responding to a specific question about delays in land allocation, sanctioning pilot projects and providing ancillary infrastructure like electricity and feeder roads for the DMIC, Ms. Patel said, “Gujarat is doing all it needs to. But our neighbouring States like Rajasthan and Haryana are lagging behind despite so many reminders. So we need better coordination between all the States involved in a project.”

Asked about other complaints from international investors and officials on the ease of doing business in India, Ms. Patel admitted that “land acquisition is our biggest problem,” but maintained that given the appreciation in land value, “Gujarati farmers are now learning that there are benefits to giving up their land for development purposes.”

Defending the government against allegations that she was one of the only two Chief Ministers on the high-profile visit because Gujarat gets “special treatment” from Mr. Modi, she said: “Gujarat does benefit the most, always, because the Chinese know Gujarat well. Most of the time, they are able to come, identify land, pay for it, set up their factories, and only when they invite me to inaugurate it do they even need to see me,”

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 11:36:11 AM |

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