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International firm denies it works "on behalf of chief minister Modi", praises Cong economic policies

By Our Representative
A top US-based consultant which, many say, carried out Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s public relations (PR) job, especially in western countries, has praised the UPA government, fighting a losing battle against the NDA in the Lok Sabha elections. Eulogising the UPA’s economic performance, APCO Worldwide has said in a recent post on its website, “After a series of significant policy changes starting in 1991, India today is a trillion-dollar market with an enviable rate of GDP growth.” It has added, “Today, India plays an increasingly important role in global geopolitics — not only as the world's largest democracy, but also as an economic powerhouse that is coming into its own.”
APCO Worldwide has underlined, “India's economy is fueled by the combination of a large services sector, a strong and diversified manufacturing base and a significant agricultural sector that continues to provide a framework for the growth of the domestic economy. The country's resilience in weathering the recent global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead.”
Noting this change, a UK-based scholar and activist Rohini Hensman has observed in a recent commentary, “The Gujarat Model of Development: What would it do the Indian Economy?”: “This is a very different picture from the constant BJP blitzkrieg blaring the allegation that the UPA has made a mess of India’s economy.” It points out, “Given that APCO is the public relations firm hired by the state government of Gujarat from 2009 to 2013 at a reported cost of $ 25,000 a month to promote Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat, it can hardly be accused of pro-Congress bias.”
Not just this. APCO Worldwide has gone so far as to deny that it has been part of the Modi bandwagon. Insisting that “APCO is a non-partisan, global communication, business strategy and stakeholder engagement firm that works with a significant number of global corporations, governments and leading nonprofit organizations in India and around the world”, it does not deny that “APCO was one of the strategic partners of the Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb) of the Government of Gujarat, working to promote the biennial Vibrant Gujarat Summit and to position Gujarat as a global investment destination.”
However, it points out, “The firm’s contract with the government concluded at the end of March 2013, and currently we have no working relationship with the Government of Gujarat.” Currently, it says, “APCO does not work on behalf of Chief Minister Modi. APCO is not involved in any media activities relating to the rescue efforts of pilgrims, tourists and residents in Uttarkhand in the wake of last week’s tragic flash floods. APCO has never worked to obtain a US visa for Chief Minister Modi.”
Elaborating, APCO says, the Gujarat operations were carried with the help of “a premier Ahmedabad-based advertising agency”, Aakriti Promotions & Media Ltd, focusing “on developing a comprehensive communication offer in the country.” The two “partnered to deliver the integrated communication campaign for the Vibrant Gujarat 2011 Summit, which achieved global and regional recognition.”
It added, “The summit attracted the participation of more than 200 trade associations and trade delegations from 101 different countries. Investment announcements valued at more than $460 billion were made. APCO was the official relationship partner for the 2011 summit and has been retained for the 2013 summit.”
All this was done in view of the fact that “India is a growing market for APCO, and this partnership strategically integrated APCO and Aakriti’s services to provide a 360-degree communication service to present and future clients.” The relationship helped APCO Worldwide win “several awards for its work in Gujarat including Best Government Communications Campaign in Asia-Pacific. It was also declared “South-East Asia Consultancy of the Year by The Holmes Report.”

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