Mukesh Ambani, the richest person in India and chairman of the Reliance Industries has endorsed the election Congress candidate of South Mumbai – Milind Deora. The Mumbai South is a prestigious Lok Sabha constituency as it is the richest part of the country and most of the India’s top businesspeople live here. Deora is a two time MP from the constituency but was defeated in 2014 general election by NDA candidate. He tweeted a video in which Mukesh Ambani and Uday Kotak were seen endorsing his candidature. “Milind is the man for South Mumbai… Milind has in-depth knowledge of the social, economic and cultural eco-system of the South Bombay constituency,”says MukeshAmbani in the video.
From small shopkeepers to large industrialists – for everyone, South Mumbai means business.
— Milind Deora (@milinddeora) April 17, 2019
If a person is not aware of family history of Mukesh Ambani and Milind Deora, then the endorsement seems like an ‘independent’ opinion of an industrialist about a candidate or about his party. However, the real reason behind Ambani’s support to Deora is different.
It is well known that the Ambani family has is significant clout in Congress party till late the early 2000s. As per the Nira Radia tapes, Mukesh Ambani said “Congress to ab apni dukaan hai,” to Ranjan Bhattacharya. “Reliance’s orientation, right from the time of Dhirubhai was Congress…Dhirubhai was credited with helping Indira come back to power… the company and its promoters were always seen to be close to the Congress,” said another official.
The main business of Mukesh Ambani is petrochemicals and refinery and he got Murli Deora, father of Milind Deora appointed as petroleum minister of the country. Murli Deora joined Congress party back in the late 1960s and was a loyal member of the party till death. After the rise of Ambani family, he became their protégé in Congress party.
Murli Deora was the longest serving petroleum minister of the country. His tenure began in January 2006 and ended in January 2011. He favored Mukesh Ambani in the contract over natural gas from Krishna Godavari basin in Bay of Bengal.“He as a close family friend of late industrialist Dhirubhai Ambani and was regarded as uncle by Dhirubhai’s children — Mukesh and Anil,” wrote The Hindu in a profile article on Murli Deora. During Deora’s tenure at petroleum ministry, “RIL executives had enjoyed unfettered access to the oil ministry,” said an official.
Business Toady, a financial magazine wrote about the favors Milind Deora has done for RIL as petroleum minister in an article published in March 2012.
Mukesh Ambani’s clout in Congress was so much that he got a union petroleum minister transferred in less than two years. S. Jaipal Reddy who was appointed as petroleum minister in the first month of the 2011 did not favor Mukesh Ambani. He transferred bureaucrats who favored RIL and imposed a fine of 7,000 crore rupees to RIL for drop in production of Gas in KG basin and violations mentioned in 2001 CAG report. On 28 October 2012, less than two years after the appointment he was removed from petroleum minister and given a less significant portfolio of Minister of Science and Technology.
It is very clear that the real reason behind Mukesh Ambani’s support to Milind Deora is a mutual favor. He supports the candidature of Milind Deora because his father favored him as petroleum minister. The support of Ambani to Deora is best example of crony capitalism prevalent in the Congress party.