Corporate captains of the India Inc started voting early on Monday in the country’s financial capital. As the media caught up with the decision makers outside the polling booths, key issues that resonated were of employment generation, stable government, and the country’s security. Most corporate doyens, however, seemed to be fine with the idea of having a coalition government at the Centre.
After casting his vote in Malabar Hills, Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, said, “We all have been infected by the virus of progress and growth. Even if a coalition government comes, it should work towards progress and growth of the country."
Mahindra's fellow voter at Malabar Hills, chairman of the Godrej group, Adi Godrej, too quipped, “Coalition as long as it is well-bounded, can be good, otherwise a single party government would be good.”
He felt that the government needed to pay a lot of attention to economic and social development.
Sajjan Jindal, who heads the diversified conglomerate JSW, also seemed to be open to the idea of coalitions. “We have had coalition governments at the Centre and they have provided very good governance. There is no problem. I think we are a very mature democracy and we have seen even coalition governments providing good governance, so I am not worried,” he told reporters after casting his vote.
Issues such as industrial growth, jobs and security need to be grappled with, Jindal said and underlined the need to have a stable government at the Centre, which can provide continuous development.
L&T Chairman A M Naik, however, seemed to have a different take. “First let them get selected and then we will see if it’s an unholy alliance of 20 parties or it is the BJP,” he said.
Brokerages, however, are wary of a fractured mandate. Ridham Desai, head of India equity research and India equity strategist at Morgan Stanley, told a television channel after casting his vote, “If India gets a fractured mandate, there could be a correction in equity prices. The market is pricing in the largest party getting about 230 seats. If the party gets about 270 seats, there can be an upside.”
For Naik, the key issues this election are employment and the country's security. He told a TV channel that in the last one year, the government has been fighting with each party giving everything free. “That takes away all the money, and that means there is not enough left for development. We have to find a way of employing the poor people usefully, and get them into earning. So that there is self-respect and that they are themselves worth something, and not only free things," he said.
Most corporate chieftains ditched their formal attire for a more casual one in the Mumbai summers.
Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran was among the first ones to vote among India Inc leaders. Accompanied by his wife, he voted in Worli in the morning, minutes after polling began. Reliance ADA Group Chairman Anil Ambani was also among the early voters at a Cuffe Parade polling station. His brother Mukesh Ambani voted at a convent school in Peddar Road with his family. Senior Ambani had endorsed Congress leader Milind Deora, who is contesting from Mumbai South constituency in Maharashtra in the election, along with senior banker Uday Kotak.
Also at Peddar Road, HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh voted for a stable government. "We want a stable government. Somebody who can give stability to the country for the next 5 years,” Parekh said.
RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, who also voted at Peddar Road, said this was his first vote in Mumbai after shifting from Delhi.
Former chairman of Jet Aiways Naresh Goyal, who also cast his vote at Peddar Road, dodged the multitude of reporters gathered outside the booth and walked briskly to his car waiting outside.
(With inputs from PTI)