At the turn of the century Bangalore Vs Hyderabad saw the biggest rivalry between the two states of Karnataka and Andhra pradesh. Chandrababu Naidu, who liked being called the CEO of AP and S M Krishna spared no efforts to woo the International IT majors with sops and offers and managed to bring in biggies like Microsoft , IBM and others to the two states. Their competition paved way for the IT Boom in the beginning of the century.
Nearly two decades later, the Great IT race is back in a more bitter and fiercer form as rivalry. But this time the start is by the “Startup State” as India’s newest state Telengana’s IT minister K T Rama Rao( son of KCR) likes it to be called. Launching the global investment drive from Bengaluru, KTR speaking to TEHELKA said “ We want to be No1 in IT exports, while we will target US$ 41 Bn of exports , we want Karnataka to be second with US$ 40 Bn worth of exports “ . The point not to be missed was skipping the mention of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh and its chief minister Chandrababu Naidu who had in the past marched away with credit for developing Hyderabad in the past. The bitter rivalry between the two states visible , as KTR told TEHELKA “ It was not a bifurcation( of the two states), but a Divorce and divorces are always painful”. The pain for Telengana emerges from the fact that Naidu with his tech savvy image has managed to woo corporate to the new state in a big way while Telengana is still riddled with the pains of bifurcation , the agitation mode, outflow of capital and issues like Naxal presence in several districts. When asked specifically , about Naidu’s role KTR was quick to respond to TEHELKA ” No one individual can take credit for developing Hyderabad in the past” .
Interestingly both Andhra Pradesh and Telengana are wooing investment from Karnataka which leads IT exports in the country. Karnataka’s exports touched US$ Bn 31 last year and the bifurcated states look to driving investment from Bangalore which has choked due to infrastructural constraints. But like Telengana , even Naidu doesn’t want to rub Karnataka on the wrong side while competing against it“I am involving Bengaluru in the development of Krishnapatnam. I am aware that the Bengaluru-Chennai industrial corridor will pass through Krishnapatnam. I will by developing Krishnapatnam to help Bengaluru develop.” Said Naidu when he visited Bengaluru to woo investors.
Both the new states know that with the massive lead that Karnataka has in IT exports it better to collaborate and compete. Karnataka government is also waking up to the challenge being thrown by the two new states and is gearing to match it. Speaking to TEHELKA, the chief minister Siddharamaiah said “ We have partnered with the IT
sector for nearly two decades and facilitated them, there will be other states who will come and try to take them away, but we have provided them enough reasons to stay and grow here. We had infrastructure issues but they are being put in place”.
The IT sector is enjoying the attention that it’s once again getting from the competitive race between the governments. Over 7 IT companies lined up in a five star hotel in Bengaluru to meet KTR with specific requests and demands, which the ‘startup’ state is offering. A potential investor in confidence told TEHELKA “ This is just the beginning, we will wait and watch what Andhra pradesh also has to offer before we take a final call”