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Ogle at AB, invest in UP

Ehtasham Khan in Mumbai | January 08, 2005 23:30 IST

An Uttar Pradesh investment session at the ongoing Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations in Mumbai attracted huge attention on Saturday due to the presence of Bollywood stars.

An hour before the Uttar Pradesh session was scheduled to start at the Tata Dance Academy theatre in Mumbai, a group of security men with sniffer dogs scanned the venue.

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Then superstar Amitabh Bachchan made a dramatic appearance. Clad in a white shirt, blue suit and red tie, he walked into the theatre much before schedule.

He was not alone. Hordes of visitors shoved each other to follow him inside the theatre. Even the volunteers shouted in excitement: "Amitabh Bachchan has come."

One of the woman delegates was heard saying: "Indian is known by either Taj Mahal or Amitabh Bachchan."

Soon Bachchan had to take refuge backstage as people rushed to shake hands and take autographs.

The theatre was packed in minutes. People stood wherever they could manage. Others had to wait outside as the doors were locked to keep the crowds out.

Gradually, the speakers came on one by one. These included Bachchan's wife Jaya Bachchan,  a member of the Rajya Sabha, and Raj Babbar and Jaya Prada, also former actors and currently members of the Lok Sabha.

Activist, actress and former lawmaker Shabani Azmi also joined the discussions.

They shared the dais with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his party general secretary Amar Singh.

A confused delegate from South Africa asked if the session was on Bollywood. She expressed surprise to know that many actors had now become politicians.

"Oh, I used to see Raj Babbar's movies," she whispered in her husband's ears.

Then, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav came up to clear the doubts.

"I have brought these people here to show you that such big names are associated with the development of Uttar Pradesh. We have to make Uttar Pradesh as Uttam Pradesh (best state)," said Yadav.

Amitabh Bachchan is brand ambassador of the state.

Rejecting the perception of poor law and order situation in his state, Yadav said: "It is propaganda against me. You come and see. The situation has improved a lot. Bad days are over. I have changed the situation after taking control of the state."

He sought a federal commission to find out which state in India had the highest crime record. "Uttar Pradesh will not come in the top 10. I can assure you that," he said.

He said the Planning Commission had allocated Rs13,500 crore in the coming year to his state looking at the development schemes his government has mooted.

"We had asked for less, but gave us more."

He said contrary to the general image of the bureaucracy, officials in his state were more active than others.

"If the horse rider is efficient then he can take the horse in any direction. You will not have any problems in dealing with the bureaucracy. Please come and talk to me if there is any problem," he said.

Yadav cited an example. "I got the Cabinet to pass a proposal to set up a private university in just three days. The proposal came to me on January 6 and I got it cleared and also passed an ordinance by January 9. This is the pace at which we are working," he said.

"There are no hurdles."

Amitabh Bachchan read out a text telling people about the achievements of Uttar Pradesh. He asked visiting delegates to invest in agriculture and information technology.

Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh added: "Bangalore era is over. We are going to lead in IT now."

Fifteen states are holding sessions to showcase their achievements and seek investment from overseas Indians.

Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2005: The Complete Coverage

More reports from Maharashtra

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