Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos who is currently in India on three-day visit will not be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As per reports, Amazon did seek an appointment with Modi, which was declined.
According to an Economic Times report, this was communicated to Amazon last month.
Not just Modi, other ministers from the cabinet too, including Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, will not be meeting Bezos this time.
Bezos’ visit to India came at a time when offline traders have been up in arms against Amazon and Flipkart over deep discounting on the platform. Traders have also accused them of flouting FDI norms, of preferring their own sellers over others, thus indulging in predatory pricing.
ET quotes political commentators as saying that Modi meeting Bezos would further alienate traders, especially with Delhi elections coming up.
In fact, traders across the country, led by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), protested Bezos’ visit to India with slogans such as ‘Go back Bezos’. CAIT had also asked to see the PM before his meeting with Bezos ‘to apprise him of their views’.
Bezos’ visit to India also comes at a time when the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has ordered an inquiry into the business practices of Amazon and Flipkart. This, after the Delhi Vyapar Mahasangh alleged that the e-commerce giants give preference to certain sellers affiliated with or controlled by them, which has led to several other traders and sellers having to shut shop.
There are also other speculations over why PM Modi declined meeting Bezos. According to an IANS report, Modi declined meeting Bezos due to the critical stand that Washington Post took against the government of India. Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos.
Washington Post had published articles critical of the Modi government’s moves including the abrogation of Article 370 and CAA. At the time of publication of that article on CAA, many within the government had stated that the daily "misrepresented" the legislation with an "ulterior motive". Many social media handles followed by the Prime Minister himself took to Twitter to express their discontent,” the IANS report states.
Modi had met Bezos on his previous visit to India in 2014 when Bezos announced a $2 billion investment in India. They had also met in 2016 when Modi visited the US. During this trip, Amazon announced that it was increasing its India commitment from $2 billion to $5 billion.
The Amazon founder and the richest man in the world arrived in India on January 14. On January 15, he attended an Amazon event in Delhi where he announced an investment of $1 billion to help bring over 10 million small and medium businesses (SMBs) online. He is in Mumbai on Thursday.