Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to be the star attraction at the inaugural session on Monday, March 27 of the Global Business Summit hosted by The Economic Times. But not just the Prime Minister, at least three Union cabinet ministers, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and several bureaucrats reportedly pulled out at the eleventh hour.
While neither the Times Group nor the Government have specified any reason barring ‘security concerns’ and ‘unforeseen circumstances’, there is much speculation about the public snub by the Government.
Media watchdog thehoot.org wondered “Why did the PM and his ministers and bureaucrats, and Chandrababu Naidu (whose state is an official partner of the summit) all pull out of the ET global summit at the last minute? It started on March 27. The reason offered by a gossip portal, that the PM and his men were upset with ET because of its build up to Akhilesh Yadav before the elections, does not explain a last-minute ditch. But the paper seems to be trying to make up. Each of the first four pages of today's ET had prominent stories on the PM with his picture”. There was surprise expressed on social media where someone archly commented that the Times Group has been supportive of all rulers barring Bahadur Shah Zafar (the media house occupies an iconic building on New Delhi’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg).
The GBS website had put it out that the Prime Minister and his top ministers would be the star attractions and went on to add, “With BJP’s developmental agenda finding purchase with the masses, expect Team Modi to deliver a big, sharp and inspirational message to India Inc too at the event. In the much-awaited inaugural session, PM Modi, with recent demonetisation and GST wins under his belt, is expected to throw light on his government’s agenda for the second half of its tenure.“
Key members of Team Modi—Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari and Piyush Goyal were confirmed among prominent speakers, who included former US Vice President Dick Cheney.
A media website speculated that the snub was meant to convey the Government and BJP’s displeasure at provocations ranging from Times Group Managing Director Vineet Jain’s “demonetization tweets” to The Times of India’s cartoons taking potshots at the government to Modi spoofs on Radio Mirchi and so on.”
A Facebook post being shared claimed that Vineet Jain went to see Amit Shah two days ago but the meeting ended on a sour note with Shah voicing his displeasure at ET’s editorial on Sadhus taking over India, Radio Mirchi’s comedy show called “ Mitron” and about the overall tenor of coverage of Uttar Pradesh election campaign by the Group.
While National Herald has not been able to independently confirm it, there is also speculation that Amit Shah gave vent to his feeling that the Times Group favoured the Samajwadi Party because Akhilesh Yadav had allotted 45 acres of land for the Bennett University in Greater Noida.
Last-minute cancellation of participation by the President and the Prime Minister are rare. And so are ‘security concerns’, said to be the reason by some. If it is indeed because of an editorial, cartoons or election coverage by the media house, it reflects poorly on the PMO and the BJP, especially after its landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh.
The fresh speculation is what would happen to the land allotted by the UP Government to not just the Times Group but to others as well? Is the Yogi Government going to review the allotments?