Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu was taken aback by an unexpected development towards the end of January. Industries Secretary Solomon Arokiaraj refused to sign memorandums of understanding (MoUs) at the second edition of the much-trumpeted CII Partnership Summit at Visakhapatnam, leading to withering criticism about the hollowness of the programme, which Naidu’s detractors call government propaganda.
The secretary’s is the second such rebellion in public glare. In January 2008, during the YS Rajasekhara Reddy regime in united Andhra, IAS officer Lakshmi Parthasarathy had done the same.
The shadow fell on Naidu’s ambitious Sunrise Summit when Arokiaraj refused to put his signature on all 91 MoUs in the industry sector, alleging that they were drafted by the consultancy agency KPMG and lacked credibility. He said, “I will have nothing to do with them as I have neither drafted nor vetted them.” The government eventually asked Karthikeya Mishra, director of industries, to sign the documents.
The summit is part of the AP chief minister’s grand designs to make Visakhapatnam the Davos of the East. “These summits are core to my vision of catapulting Andhra Pradesh and transforming Visakhapatnam into another Hong Kong or Singapore to become a seat of high-voltage economic activity,” said Naidu a day before the summit, which attracted 2,000 delegates from 50 countries. The summit ended with the signing of 425 MoUs for an investment of Rs 6.83 lakh crore. The first Sunrise Summit in 2016 had roped in 328 MoUs with an investment of Rs 4.78 lakh crore. Read More…