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Airport: Murthy puts foot down, walks out

Underlining once again that Bangalore’s infrastructure is being held hostage by its politics, Infosys chairman and chief mentor N R Nar...

Written by Johnson T A | Bangalore |
October 21, 2005

Underlining once again that Bangalore’s infrastructure is being held hostage by its politics, Infosys chairman and chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy quit in anger today as chairman of the Bangalore International Airport Limited, the consortium set up to build India’s first greenfield airport. This came after a diatribe launched against him by Janata Dal (S) leader H D Deve Gowda and complete silence by his coalition partner, the Congress government and Chief Minister Dharam Singh.

Murthy, widely credited for ensuring the project’s take-off after years of delay, pointed this out in his resignation to Singh: ‘‘The media reports of October 17, 2005 refer to your coalition partner, Mr Deve Gowda, speaking to the press about lack of my contribution to the Bangalore International Airport Limited during the last five years…

‘‘I wish he had asked me personally before going to the press, or talked to you or ascertained it from members of the board. I am disappointed that a former Prime Minister did not accord me this basic courtesy. I am pained, more so, that leaders in the Government like you did not even clarify my role in the company and the work that has been done…I have spent enormous amount of time and energy in interacting with the government in New Delhi and the government here to make this work. The records prove themselves.’’

BIAL’s Swiss CEO Albert Brunner expressed anguish: ‘‘We are very saddened and hope this isn’t his last word. As our chairman, Mr Murthy led all our meetings, opened doors for us whenever we needed clearances. His proactive leadership brought the project so far. We hope this will not impact the project.’’

On October 11, Gowda wrote to Dharam Singh slamming both Murthy and Infosys. He said that Murthy headed BIAL and it took ‘‘more than five years to get the project cleared.’’ He also advised Singh against allotting Infosys 845 acres outside Bangalore alleging that some IT companies were using agricultural land for real-estate. Again, on October 17, Gowda took potshots: ‘‘Murthy is a world-traveller. He should be able to come up with a plan to decongest Bangalore’s traffic.’’ Gowda didn’t comment today. CM said: ‘‘I will try to convince him.’’

Gowda blames him for delay, facts are opposite

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