Tata Motors comes to Gujarat with help from GSPC

Vol 12, PW 11 (16 Oct 08) People & Policy

Not many know about the small but pivotal role of GSPC in the decision by carmaker Tata Motors to re-locate production of its Rs1 lakh Nano â€کpeople’s car’ from West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat.

PETROWATCH learns all the critical negotiations between Gujarat government officials and senior Tata executives took place in the impressive steel and glass HQ of GSPC in Sector 11 of the state capital Gandhinagar, away from the prying eyes and inquisitive minds in the Sachivalaya premises of the state government. “All the finer points of the agreement were worked out at GSPC Bhawan,â€‌ confirms a source.

“Hardly anyone at GSPC knew the talks were going on.â€‌ GSPC Bhawan’s choice as location for the talks was not coincidental.

Until last month it was the seat of company chairman D. Rajagopalan, a 59-year-old career civil servant from Tamil Nadu.

On October 1, Rajagopalan was formally appointed as the state’s most powerful non-elected bureaucrat when he replaced Manjula Subramaniam as chief secretary – with direct access to BJP chief minister Narendra Modi, who was instrumental in persuading group chairman Ratan Tata to re-locate to Gujarat. As chief secretary â€کRaja’ (king), as he is widely known, will continue as GSPC chairman.

But it was in his new role as chief secretary that he led talks with Tata Motors CEO Ravi Kant in the familiar surroundings of his old HQ to ensure Gujarat would trump the queue of states desperate to see the company come to them instead. “As Raja drove from Sachivalaya to GSPC Bhawan,â€‌ we hear.

“Tata’s people also headed there direct from Ahmedabad airport.â€‌ Business-friendly Rajagopalan’s proximity to Modi won him the chief secretary job ahead of three others: Sudha Anchalia, George Joseph and Gurucharan Singh.

Born on 26 July 1949, Rajagopalan did a masters degree in physics before joining the civil service on July 15, 1974. He retires in July next year.