New Delhi: Nearly seven months after GMR's over USD 500 million Male airport project was terminated, former President and key political player Maumoon Abdul Gayoom says his party is open to do business with the Indian infrastructure major if it comes back to power.
Blaming former President Mohamed Nasheed for inking a faulty contract with GMR resulting in its termination, Gayoom, who was here last week, said he has assured top Indian leadership including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that all bilateral, regional and international commitments will be respected by his government.
"The fault lies with the former President Nasheed because he entered into this agreement against the law...Our constitution and law says he should seek and get parliamentary approval because he enters into such an agreement. He kept the parliament and public in dark," Gayoom told PTI.
He said there was lot of public unhappiness when certain provisions of the contract came to light which, he said, was against the interest of his country.
"I don't blame GMR for that. I blame my government, I blame Nasheed for doing it against the law," he said.
Asked if he, who is confident of his party PPM coming back to power in September Presidential elections, was willing to look at GMR if it comes with a fresh proposal, he said, "everything is possible".
"Of course, if you look at investors, whether it is GMR or TATA or whoever, anybody who wants to invest in Maldives, we will talk to them.
"And if you can come to arrangement which is good for both sides and is not harmful to any one side, we will of course welcome that," Gayoom said.
Asked about the implications of the forced exit of GMR from Maldives that has eroded investor confidence, he said, "I have assured everyone who I met here that in the PPM government, we will give full assurance to foreign investors. We will protect all foreign investments. We will honour our commitments.
"All bilateral, regional and international commitments will be honoured and respected by the PPM government. I have said that to everybody here and they believe that," he said.
GMR was forced out of the Male airport modernisation project by the current regime of Mohamed Waheed which said the contract signed during the previous government was not legal. PPM, which is part of the coalition government there, too had raised objections against the contract.
An arbitration process is currently on between GMR and the Maldivian government. The episode late last year had led to lot of rifts in the Indo-Maldives ties.
Asked where he saw the bilateral relations if his party came to power, Gayoom, whose brother is PPM's Presidential candidate, said, "It will grow very well. Because I was here and had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister and they have all assured me full support to Maldives' stability and Maldives' welfare".
He added, "I am sure it is genuine. I have experienced it myself. I was there for 30 years, I had very good relations with Indian leadership. All Prime Ministers that have served the country for 30 years.
"They visited Male, I visited here. We had a good rapport. I am sure India will support us in all our developmental efforts. I foresee a period of very strong relations between Maldives and India after Presidential elections," he said.
Replying to a query on why he was not contesting, Gayoom said, "I have served enough. 30 years is enough for one man. I am still there. I am the leader of the party. If my party comes to power and they want guidance or anything, I am prepared to give. But I am not ready to run the country as President".
First Published: Sunday, June 9, 2013, 16:13