Siddu, take cue from Naidu

Truncated Andhra Pradesh may be a pale shadow of its former united self, but that has not deterred its Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu from doing what he knows best — peddle the state to entrepreneurs, especially from the Information Technology sector.

Naidu has sought to turn a challenging situation into a great opportunity. Since coming to power earlier this year as head of the new but smaller AP, Naidu has gone all-out in enticing IT companies and other corporates to set up shop in the state. His aggressive foray into neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu attempting to unabashedly poach industries provoked his counterparts Siddaramaiah and Jayalalithaa (before she stepped down) to demand that the Centre stop providing tax sops to the partitioned state. This demand is a petulant and little thought out reaction to the dynamic Andra CM’s overtures.

Politicians in Karnataka as well as the media remember an earlier time, some 12 to 13 years ago, when Naidu set up a competition of sorts between Bengaluru and Hyderabad in wooing IT companies. Bengaluru was way ahead, and still is, compared to Hyderabad but Naidu’s marketing putsch rattled India’s IT city. He managed to wean Microsoft chief Bill Gates and United States President Bill Clinton to Hyderabad, leaving Bengaluru in the cold.

Though Naidu kept insisting that he was not snatching anything away from Bengaluru, it did turn out to be a zero sum game. Microsoft set up its biggest R&D centre outside of the US in Hyderabad much to Bengaluru’s chagrin. This time around, Naidu is working on the perceived inertia of Karnataka’s Congress’ government under Siddaramaiah. The CM appears to be slow on the IT front. Already top IT company Infosys, unhappy with the infrastructure provided, has threatened to back off from developing a new campus near the international airport. The CM’s complacent attitude assuming that Bangalore is already established as an IT hub is dangerous especially when a proven and tough competitor is flying from Singapore to Japan in wooing CEOs of global companies for the employment of that state's youth.

Siddaramaiah, apparently not keen on being branded pro-IT to the exclusion of other sectors in the state, did not see Naidu's push coming. Now that Naidu has thrown the gauntlet, Siddaramaiah is scrambling to get the IT sector back in top shape in Bengaluru. He has all but beseeched Infosys not to drop its plans to develop the second campus, promising to do all for the company. Siddaramaiah and other CMs need to take the cue rather than see Naidu as a threat and drop its unreasonable demands that central assistance to the newborn state is withdrawn.

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