The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister was in the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, May 16, 2007. A few of us from AID, FOSA, NBA and Ruckus Society participated in a private luncheon that the MP CM and his delegation was having with the investors from the area.
Plenty of swank
The luncheon started with the delegation painting a beautiful picture of why Madhya Pradesh is the ideal destination for investment and how they would bend over backwards to get the dollars and pounds. Speaker after speaker reiterated how anything and everything was negotiable for the investors and how every obstacle will be removed for the investments.
When the MP CM took the podium and started talking, two of us unfurled a banner asking them to fulfill their responsibility in Narmada and Bhopal before coming across seas and wooing investors. The message went loud and clear across the hall and the delegates and investors were taken by surprise. The volunteers were ejected and the CM continued to propagandize about the state and its investment opportunities but he appeared to be a little thrown off by the incident.
As he wrapped his speech, the CM wanted to clear up the cloud hanging over Narmada and Bhopal and started making his stance saying all was well with the communities and they have been taken care more in a much better manner than promised. At this point, a volunteer started distributing fliers saying why we shouldn’t trust this man as he has made many many such false promises.
When the CM finished his rejoinder to the protest, one of us stood up and said she had been to the valley and the compensation was woefully inadequate and if he continued in this manner, the SEZs in his state will become like Nandigram. She was ejected from the room and they also attributed her speech to ignorance about ground realities in Madhya Pradesh because she lives in California.
At this point, two of us left the room and left more fliers in the bags that the Madhya Pradesh delegation had assembled to give to the attendees (but left it carelessly outside the room).
In the Q and A session, a volunteer questioned their credibility about Bhopal and Narmada to which the answers were indirect and reeked ignorance. Some of us followed them to the car with our questions.
At a separate event in the evening, one other person showed up to question Mr. Chouhan on his relief and rehabilitation package for the Bhopalis and Narmada dam oustees, a visibly upset Chouhan refused to answer the question and the delegates, organizers asked the volunteer to leave as they did not want more problems like the afternoon.
It is deplorable that public servants come to the US on public money in the name of doing good for the public but sit in private board rooms and not answer questions from the citizenry.