A file photo of Rahul Gandhi. Photo: HT
A file photo of Rahul Gandhi. Photo: HT

Rahul Gandhi to meet 15 start-up entrepreneurs in Bengaluru

Gandhi's meeting comes at a time when the Karnataka govt is readying its plans to announce the country's first start-up policy

Bengaluru: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will meet at least 15 start-up entrepreneurs in Bengaluru on Friday, in an efforts to be seen as the voice of the fraternity.

The meeting comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Bengaluru to participate in a technology summit by IT industries’ body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) along with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Gandhi’s meeting comes at a time when the Karnataka government is readying its plans to announce the country’s first start-up policy. This will be the second such meeting by Gandhi; he met the representatives from the fraternity earlier this year in Delhi.

In Bengaluru, he will meet executives of both tech and non-tech start-ups that have created blue collar jobs in Bengaluru as well as Tier II and III cities, according to persons in the investor community familiar with the plans.

The curated list includes representatives from companies like cab hailing service provider Ola, online grocery delivery company Big Basket, instant foods brand iD Fresh Food (India) Pvt. Ltd, Mysuru-based healthcare technology company Skanray Technologies Pvt. Ltd, in-home healthcare service provider Portea Medical, design and digital experience company Robosoft and Hector Beverages Pvt. Ltd that runs PaperBoat-packaged drinks, among others.

The list is said to have been carefully curated to consciously not include e-commerce companies that have unresolved and ongoing tax issues with the state government. Persons familiar with the plans said that they want Gandhi to engage with the community and not give too much room for complaints and protests.

Ongoing tax issues between e-commerce companies and the state government has resulted in some of them shifting infrastructure investments to neighbouring Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

Karnataka state legislator Dinesh Gundu Rao said that Gandhi wanted to understand the start-up ecosystem better and increase engagement with the community. He said that the meeting will also be attended by Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah, IT/BT minister S.R. Patil and angel investors from Mumbai and Bengaluru.

“He wants to see if the PM is claiming start-up success for someone else’s work," a state legislator, who did not want to be identified, told Mint.

Modi visited the Silicon Valley in September where he addressed start-up events attended by heads of companies like Apple, Telsa, Facebook and Google among a host of other companies. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in August 2015, launched two new funds by Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for funding start-ups and small enterprises. The number of start-ups is estimated to increase from 3,100 currently to 11,500 by 2020, employing over 2.5 lakh people, according to Nasscom.

Karnataka industries minister R.V. Deshpande said that the Karnataka start-up policy will also have a SIDBI-like corpus to fund and facilitate the start-up ecosystem in the state.

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