Hailed as the Vibrant Gujarat of New Jersey,the three-day Global Gujarati Conference 2013,turned out to be a costly embarrassment for artistes,politicians and exhibitors,who had participated in it from the state,as reports of mismanagement and misconduct surfaced.
The event,which began on August 30,was organised by US-based Friends of Gujarat at Raritan Centre in New Jersey,and was helmed by NRG (Non Resident Gujarati) Kirit Patel who is said to be a close confidant of Narendra Modi and had last organised the event in 2010 as Swarnim Gujarat.
The highlight a closing day address by Modi through video conference was cancelled at the last minute.
Day one of the event saw BJP leader Smriti Irani leaving in a huff right after the inauguration. Promoted and sold as a big ticket Modi event,for which participants were expected to pay an entry fee of $100,the expected count of 40,000 footfalls fell to 1000.
This was not a Modi function,as promised. Apart from Smriti Irani and Jayanati Barot there were no big political functionaries and the CMs speech was cancelled. Participating artistes were not given proper lodging facilities and were mistreated by the organisers who ran the show haphazardly. The promotion and publicity of the event was so badly handled that there were only 500 to 1000 people each day. We have lost face in front of our exhibitors who paid through their nose to participate in this event. Most of the stall owners are still hoping for some refund,but are scared to speak up for fear of being detained by immigration authorities, said one of the promoters from Ahmedabad.
Nearly 160 participants from Gujarat,including real estate firms,garment manufacturers,food and jewellery brands,had booked exhibition stalls.
We spent around Rs 7 lakh for two peoples accommodation,airfare,visa fees and stall booking and had just 25 per cent sale in three days. Once we reached New Jersey,far from the five-star amenities that we were promised,we got no conveyance to the venue,poor service,and had to pay extra for our food and water. We were promised laminated ply stalls,but instead got cloth stalls. We found out that while we paid Rs 3 lakh per stall,local exhibitors paid Rs 40,000 per stall, said a garment manufacturer.