WHO IS CORPORATE INDIA BETTING ON?

A video circulated by Mumbai South congress candidate Milind Deora has biggies Mukesh Ambani & Uday Kotak voicing their support for him. Winds of Change or?

BY DANFES

This is no secret that corporate world enjoys a decent rapport with the political class & the two make for a very natural tango given the direct co-relation between policy announcements to the resultant economic dynamic. With political funding made more opaque after the electoral bonds came into play, the connection between the two ends of the spectrum can only be expected to get sweeter, meatier & larger. Hence given such an intrinsic anomaly, there is every possibility that business honchos would want to be seen hobnobbing & canvassing for one political outfit or the other depending on their assessment of who they see finishing the podium race & who they feel can fuel their imagination of furthering their interests.

It is in this context that a message by Reliance group Chairman Mukesh Ambani & Exec. Vice Chairman & MD Kotak Mahindra Bank endorsing Congress Milind Deora’s candidature from South Mumbai, has assumed significance & raised some eyebrows both within the corporate & political world. His is the only exception of a candidate to have received corporate heavyweight’s direct support. We have heard of animals, including rats, snakes and weasels, being capable of predicting an impending earthquake & deserting their habitat much before the tragedy struck. Similarly examples of Catfish moving violently, chickens that stop laying eggs and bees leaving their hive in a panic have also been reported.

Not that we wish to draw any direct or indirect connect with the current development, but are we witnessing any signs of nervousness and restlessness in the corporate world or these signs of times to come? Are these calls of support conveying a larger message? By the way Ambanis are known to keep powerful noses that can smell the change? Their reading of the situation may be an equivalent of the rare animalsense that can predict the unseen. That is the theory gaining traction & it has already created lot of buzz in the political circles. Given that Mukesh Ambani enjoys a good equation with the current dispensation, the latest developments must be some news to the BJP brass including Mr. Modi.

Political observers & analysts call this a certain win of the congress candidate from here. As local leaders here said, he is now the common candidate of both the Congress party and the BJP with Ambani enjoying good relations with both. Deora had won this Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and 2009. He lost it to the Shiv Sena in 2014 in the Modi wave whose sitting MP Arvind Sawant will be contesting the election. Sources said there is some confusion within the Sena that is not particularly keen to get on the wrong side of the heavy corporate world that seems to be supporting Deora.Mukesh Ambani, who has inherited his father Dhirubhai Ambani’s legacy, has “friends” across the board. But great significance is being attached in political circles here to the fact that the only candidate he has openly come out in support for is Milind Deora.

When you hear from the Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani something like “Milind is the man for South Mumbai. Having represented South Mumbai for 10 years, I believe that Milind has in-depth knowledge of the social, economic and cultural ecosystem of South Mumbai.” And when Uday Kotak also chipping in ”Milind is truly Mumbai ka connection. I genuinely believe Milind understands South Mumbai,” make no mistake that there is something beyond that meets the eye. This support by Ambani is being seen as a signal that he would like the political parties, even those with a candidate in the fray, to support Deora.

Ostensibly disturbed by the development, the Shiv Sena is now in two minds as it would not like to upset “Mukeshbhai.”. In its first reaction of course the Sena expressed support over this endorsement, maintaining that it would backfire. Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said it was Ambani’s “personal opinion.”Deora is close to Congress president Rahul Gandhi, with his father Murli Deora being a favorite of the party top brass. Deora has excellent relations with the corporates, with Murli Deora earlier being seen as a Congress ‘money bag’ during his peak years by party leaders.

The Deora’s have historically been in the fray, winning or losing successive elections, but contesting nevertheless. This endorsement is expected to have an impact on the political parties, all with relations with Ambani. More so, as it comes for a Congress candidate despite the party’s strong, sustained attack on his brother Anil Ambani on the Rafale deal.Mukesh Ambani and PM Narendra Modi hail from the state of Gujarat. It is reliably learnt that Ambanis have not found any favor of Rahul Gandhi all his political career. Hence this stand assumes larger significance. The Ambani family is considered to be close to the Prime Minister, and Mukesh Ambani has often praised him publicly. Additionally, the Congress had launched scathing attacks against Mukesh’ younger brother, Anil Ambani, over his involvement in the Rafale jet deal.

On the other hand, Shiv Sena has fielded a candidate against Deora after reforming its alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. With Ambani scion having come out openly in support of Deoras, it has put all political parties including BJP & Shiv Sena in a quandary. Having elaborated on his message as to why he would like to endorse Milind’s candidature, it is almost a done & dusted affair as far as South Mumbai seat is concerned. Mukesh believes that both micro enterprises and large businesses can thrive in Mumbai. So that attractive new employment opportunities can be created for our talented young women and men,” should Deora be supported by the people & voted for. That truly seals it for the Congress.

Running your business, building bridges, renewing old associations & sighting possibilities are the hallmark of Ambanis & if there remained any doubt in anyone’s mind on which way the camel would sit, the same is by & large put to rest with this development.