ADDRESSING NRIs during the inauguration of the three-day-long ‘Pravasi Diwas’, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav Monday sought to woo investors by highlighting the state’s achievements even as he indirectly referenced Gujarat, saying Uttar Pradesh will “soon leave behind the only state which boasts (the presence) of the largest number of NRIs”.
“Now, even UP can show its numbers,” the CM said at the maiden NRI Day in Agra even as he advised his listeners to associate themselves with Uttar Pradesh because, according to him, “those who do not, be it in politics or business, cannot make much progress”.
Akhilesh listed the infrastructure projects such as the metro rail network, Lucknow-Agra expressway, high-tech city in Unnao, international cricket stadium in Lucknow, development of road network and construction of fly-overs in the state as some of the positives of his government.
When some NRIs pointed out at the “mismanagement”, the CM, while admitting “there might have been some shortcomings in the past”, said his government was especially working towards this issue and sought to assert that improvements would be achieved “through your help in the future”.
At the event, minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, who recently quit Akali Dal to join the ruling Samajwadi Party, said he was planning “a grand show of Chief Minister in the United States”, on the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to that country. “There are some who claim to have addressed a crowd of 8,000 people in the US. I would be taking the CM to US in April to address a crowd of over 10,000 people,” Ramoowalia claimed.
Later in the evening, while addressing media persons, the CM spoke of the response on the first day of the conclave, saying “it was more than the government had expected”. A buoyed Akhilesh announced to make Pravasi Divas into “an annual affair”.
The CM avoided commenting on the Centre’s refusal to clear the project to build an international airport in Agra, and in turn requested that “I would instead ask you to bring us in good number in the House.”
As was reported, the state government signed 11 MoUs at the event. No official figure regarding the investment, however, was released by the government. The only monetary announcement that emerged from the dais was that of a Rs 1000-crore investment by UAE-based businessman Yousuff Ali, who said he would invest the money in building a shopping mall, community centre and a five-star hotel in Lucknow.
Ali also promised to organise a meeting between the CM and other businessmen based in the Gulf and who might be interested in making investments in UP.
Among those present included film makers Sanjay Khan and Muzaffar Ali. Earlier in the day, Abu Becker, director, Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce’s Membership committee, pointed out at “some shortcomings in the arrangements” but added that since it was the first attempt, he expects the conclave would “end just like a Bollywood movie”. “It is significant that an attempt is being made. Rest everything else, we are used to,” he said.
The day also saw the government giving away “UP Ratna Awards” to 16 NRIs having some connection with the state. However, four of these could not make it to the occasion.
On Tuesday, the second day, there would be separate panel discussions on topics related to opportunities in health and education, IT and electronics, social and culture sector besides a discussion on “UP Umeedon ka Pradesh”. On Wednesday, participant NRIs would be taken out on a tour to heritage sites in and around Agra.