Although the BJP has declared Narendra Modi its prime ministerial candidate and various opinion polls project him as Prime Minister after the coming Lok Sabha elections, India’s top bankers are sceptical: they have postponed buying space in Modi’s dream project in Gujarat, citing “political uncertainties.”

Addressing the ‘National Summit on Financial Services – A Key Driver for Economic Growth’ here on Wednesday, Modi made a fervent pitch to the head honchos of banking and financial institutions to set up shop at the upcoming Gujarat International Financial Tech – City (GIFT City) project. However, they remained cold to his appeal, and chose to wait till the general elections are over before taking a call.

In his address, Modi said, “We have conceived a most modern city. It is not simply a real estate development project. We plan to bring together ICT, financial strength and the safety aspect to make it a modern urban concept.”

Bankers non-committal But no major investment plan was announced by captains of India’s financial sector at GIFT City, although a few investors showed interest for projects like setting up of centres for trade, skill development and data.

“They (bankers and officials of financial services companies) are waiting for the final outcome of the general elections. They feel that there is still some uncertainty at present. But they have showed confidence in the (GIFT City) project,” said Hari Sankaran, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, IL&FS, which has partnered with Gujarat Urban Development Agency (GUDA), a State Government company set up for developing the GIFT project. He said this in the presence of Modi.

“It is true that during the election time, our country faces a state of stagnancy. Investors, too, postpone decisions till the elections are over. Such a waiting period becomes tough for investors. (So,) let there be clarity (after the elections),” Modi said in his address.

New-age cities Pitching the GIFT project, Modi said that the country needs new-age cities and not the likes of Bhubneshwar, Chandigarh and Gandhinagar, which were merely residential accommodations.

“We have to create new cities with special characters, like Finance City, Medi city, Knowledge City, Sports City etc. I invite our financial institutions to be a part of this vision of ours,” Modi said.

Modi also made an appeal to the leaders of country’s financial sector to think towards developing India’s financial sector in accordance with the global competition.

As many as 12 leading banks and 13 insurance companies and 17 financial institutions remained present at the one-day summit. Chanda Kochar, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank, S S Mundra, CMD, Bank of Baroda, Aditya Puri, MD, HDFC Bank, SK Jain, MD, Syndicate Bank, S R Bansal, CMD, Corporation Bank, R K Dubey, CMD, Canara Bank were among those present.

Also, Bombay Stock Exchange MD, Ashish Kumar Chauhan, Chitra Ramkrishna, MD, National Stock Exchange of India, along with SBI Capital MD, V G Kannan, Asit Bhatia, MD and co-head of Global Corporate and Investment Banking, Bank of America NA, along with heads of insurance companies including The New India Assurance Co Ltd and General Insurance Company of India were also present.

Allotment letters Meanwhile, Modi handed over letters of allotment for some projects, including Gujarat’s first World Trade Centre to come up on 1 million square feet area with an investment of around Rs 600 crore by WTC Noida Development Company Pvt. Ltd.

State Bank of India (SBI) too has announced its intentions to set up a commercial tower spread over 200,000 square feet for Rs 150 crore.

Out of planned development of 13 million square feet of built-up area (BUA) in the Phase – 1, around 10 million square feet of BUA has already been allotted for Commercial, Residential & Social facilities.

The project, jointly promoted by Gujarat government’s Gujarat Urban Development Authority (GUDA) and IL&FS to have investments worth over ₹20,000 crore thereby generating employment for over 250,000 people.

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