Essar boss Shashi Ruia in Modi peace offensive

Vol 16, PW 20 (02 May 13) People & Policy
     

Essar chief Shashi Ruia and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi are back on speaking terms, signalling a major thaw in their frosty relationship.

PETROWATCH learns Ruia held a one-hour closed door meeting with Modi this month at the chief minister’s Rs150cr ($28m) new office in Gandhinagar. Accompanied by his son Prashant, Ruia senior arrived in Ahmedabad on April 20 on a personal invitation from Modi and drove to Gandhinagar for the meeting that saw plenty of handshakes over cups of tea and Gujarati snacks.

Modi and Ruia want to repair their damaged relationship. Once good friends, they drifted apart four years ago.

Reliance is often blamed for influencing Modi with anti-Essar stories. Others say Ruia annoyed Modi by constantly listing what Essar had done for Gujarat at public events like the Vibrant Gujarat 2009 summit and by publicly demanding incentives for investing in the state.

“Ruia is also close to Advani,” says a Gandhinagar source, referring to BJP national leader and Modi rival LK Advani. “One misunderstanding led to another and soon the relationship turned ice cold.

” Hurt and agitated, Ruia skipped Vibrant Gujarat 2011, sending his son Prashant instead. He attended this year’s Vibrant Gujarat in January but the rift with Modi was clear for all to see during opening speeches.

Modi warmly shook hands and hugged Ambani brothers Anil and Mukesh but looked lost when Shashi Ruia finished his address, not even rising from his seat. Mukesh Ambani publicly reminded Modi during his speech that unlike other corporate houses (Essar) he has attended all six summits.

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