INVESTMENT NEWS: Infy project on political shelf – Six-year jab at both Mamata and Left – Bengal still too unethically parochial and unjustly maligned for any significant wealth generation yet ?!!
BY SAMBIT SAHA
INPUTS FROM CHANDREYEE CHATTERJEE IN CALCUTTA
Bangalore, June 4: Infosys has no plans to come to Bengal “at least in the next six years”, an official said today, preparing for a change of guard in the state and factoring in the possibility of political instability.
“We have no plans to go there at least in the next six years. We are not saying it officially but that’s the position,” the Infosys official said on the condition of anonymity. However, officially, the company said discussions were still on.
The software giant has been in discussions with the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government for an information technology project in Rajarhat with an expected investment of Rs 500 crore and a potential to create 20,000 jobs.
The specific reference to “six years” may appear to suggest that Mamata Banerjee’s rise is being seen as a deterrent to investment but the official clarified that a comprehensive view was being taken.
“Next one year, Mamata won’t let the Left Front government work. And when she comes to power, the Left will not let her work. That is what we feel. It is a sad situation. But we cannot get in there in such an environment. What to do?” he asked.
If Infosys does resolve to wait out the six years — there is no word like “never” in business — or Mamata, who has adopted an investor-friendly approach since becoming railway minister, does not persuade the company to advance its plans, this will be the second big-ticket project after the Tata Nano to go into a limbo in the state because of political causes.
Krish Gopalakrishnan, Infosys chief executive and managing director, said talks were on with the Bengal government for the IT campus but did not elaborate. “We are in discussion,” he said on the sidelines of the Global Investors Meet in Bangalore today.
However, the company signed two memoranda of understanding in as many days promising investments of nearly Rs 3,000 crore in Bangalore, its headquarters. Some analysts felt the expansion drive in Karnataka had effectively signalled Infosys’s exit from Bengal.
Contacted, Bengal IT minister Debesh Das said: “We have very good relations with Infosys. We are in constant touch with them.”
Business houses are known to keep projects in “suspended animation” for years unless pressed for to meet market commitment like that of the Tatas on the Nano.
However, the reluctance expressed by the Infosys official is a pointer to how potential investors will tend to keep options open or hunt for alternatives until Bengal’s political turmoil ends.