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Virendra Kapoor | May 03, 2003
Fact:The Atal Bihari Vajpayee government does not like the Confederation of Indian Industry.
Last year, Vajpayee, against a practice among prime ministers, refused an invitation to the CII annual meeting.
The industrialists called in Congress chief Sonia Gandhi instead. And she chose that occasion to read a few harsh words against the government from a prepared statement.
Vajpayee, naturally, wasn't pleased. And no one was in doubt that from then on, the government would favour the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the CII's rival.
Last week the government further rubbed salt on the CII's wounds when no minister made himself available to inaugurate its annual session.
The prime minister flat out said no. So the CII approached Finance Minister Jaswant Singh.
Singh kept them on tenterhooks for some time, then said sorry, he couldn't make it.
Next, the CII sent an SOS to Law and Justice and Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley. He, too, played hard to get and in the end politely turned down the invite.
In panic, the CII began looking for any minister. But, alas, none was available!
Thus was it at the last minute management guru C K Prahalad was called in.
Now the CII doesn't like the Vajpayee government either.
Why blame the ABVP, Prabhu?
Some years ago, the capital's premier college, St Stephens marked a major milestone by inviting its prominent alumni.
Among those who attended were Congress leaders Natwar Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar. The story goes that when Singh wrote in the distinguished visitors' book, 'I am what I am because of St Stephens' Aiyar scribbled underneath, 'Why blame the college, Natwar?'
The clued-up among the members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad recalled that when they got together recently to fete India Today group editor Prabhu Chawla for receiving the Padma Bhushan.
Chawla, who was head of the ABVP in the 1970s, said, 'I learnt my sanskars [manners] from the ABVP.'
Immediately, an old-timer protested, a la Mani Shankar Aiyar: 'Why blame the ABVP, Prabhu?'
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh