PMO-Ambanis mediation: a dangerous precedent?
M Shamsur Rabb Khan | 16 Jul 2008

Since corporate houses have been often blamed for lobbying with political leaders for hefty gains the current imbroglio over involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in intervening to end the tussle between Mukesh and Anil Ambani is a dangerous pr

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Since corporate houses have been often blamed for lobbying with political leaders for hefty gains the current imbroglio over involvement of the Prime Minister?s Office (PMO) in intervening to end the tussle between Mukesh and Anil Ambani is a dangerous precedent. Even the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is asked to personally intervene to mediate between the Ambani brothers. Why should an Indian PM go for mediating the dispute between two business tycoons of this country when he has bigger problems to deal with? The very timing of negotiation with Mukesh Ambani is crucial that raises eyebrows. Critics and commentators look at it with suspicion as one week is left for the Manmohan Singh government to seek confidence vote in the Lok Sabha, and since there is an air of uncertainty over the magical figure of 272, rumours are making rounds that horse trading is very much in the offing. While A B Bardhan, the CPI General Secretary, has openly accused the government of buying MPs for Rs. 25 crore each, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has warned that the PMO should not become the conciliation office for warring corporate houses. They blame the government, especially the Congress Party for playing game to push through all these measures which will make the corporate houses happy. JMM bribery case during PV Narsimharao regime is often cited as an example of how the unconstitutional method is adopted to save the government. Without doubt, there is an element of surprising coincidence, given the confidence vote scheduled for July 22 and meeting of Ambanis with the Prime Minister. The big industrial houses and multinational corporations (MNCs) in India and the US, who have been highly interested in seeing the civilian nuclear deal through, would act as pressure group because the deal is surely going to fetch huge business opportunities. The withdrawal of support from the Left parties has certainly given a much sought after relief to the corporate houses that were unhappy since they become the coalition partner of the UPA government. As a coalition partner, these Left parties led by CPI (M) have effectively blocked a dozen economic measures relating to banking, insurance, etc. Though the PMO has rejected the allegation hurled by the Left parties, saying that there was no question of the Prime Minister getting involved in corporate affairs, Dr. Singh?s meeting with Reliance Industries Chief Mukesh Ambani was part of his regular interaction with industry leaders. However, the speculations are rife that windfall in corporate tax was very much on the card. Since Ambanis own the riches corporate houses in India and Amar Singh is unflinchingly close to the younger Ambani, the Samajwadi Part (SP) will have say in the whole affairs while conceding benefits to the two Ambanis. 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