Business & Finance

Ambani scores a self goal

By revealing that even the Congress-led UPA government gave his group contracts worth Rs.1 lac crores, Anil Ambani proves his proximity to those in power.


The Anil Ambani led Reliance Group has been the favourite punching bag of Rahul Gandhi, for quite some time now. In all his election speeches/rallies, where Rahul Gandhi (RaGa) alleges that there has been huge corruption in the Rafale deal, he also alleges that it was the Anil Ambani group that benefitted out of it, through offset orders of Rs.30000 crores awarded to it, which he says should have gone to HAL. While RaGa gives no credible proof in support of his allegations, he yet severely vilifies the Anil Ambani group and promises to set up an enquiry into it, if the Congress comes to power. He alleges that the Modi government has indulged in blatant crony capitalism, favouritism and corruption, by giving such large defence contracts to the Anil Ambani Group.


In the absence of any evidence forthcoming from RaGa, it is unfair to repeatedly make such direct allegations against Anil Ambani, of having benefitted from crony capitalism, because if it was so, all his companies would not be in such a crisis mode as they are at present and nor would the Supreme Court have held him guilty of contempt of court. The system would have bailed him out of his crisis, if he was its favourite, as RaGa alleges. Moreover, by alleging that the Modi government has been indulging in crony capitalism, RaGa presumes that the public has forgotten that it is the Congress party that has perpetrated and immensely benefitted from crony capitalism right since independence. Thus for many decades, Indians got no other car, other than an outdated Premier Padmini or an Ambassador, because the Congress would not give a licence to anyone else to manufacture better cars for the Indian consumers. This was so for scooters, motorcycles, telephones, electronic goods and every other item, till the Congress was forced to dismantle the anachronistic licence raj regime.


In response to RaGa’s daily ranting against Anil Ambani and his group, which has gone beyond a limit as per them, the Group hit back in a hard-hitting statement, calling Rahul Gandhi a malicious liar, who is indulging in disinformation, distortion and calumny. It said that during 2004 to 2014, when the Congress was in power, it was awarded government contracts worth Rs.100,000 crores to the Group and thus questioned RaGa, whether his UPA government was supporting a crony capitalist and a dishonest businessman as RaGa says. It dismisses any charges of crony capitalism and says that these contracts were over diverse nation-building projects, such as power, telecom, roads and metro and that the Group is proud to have made a contribution to India. It says that the group has created much-needed investment and jobs, a critical backbone for a strong, vibrant and growth-oriented economy. The Anil Ambani group countered to say that RaGa’s statements are baseless and that he has provided no credible evidence to justify his derogatory and defamatory campaign. It said that it is due to such untruthful utterances that Rahul Gandhi has been facing contempt proceedings in the Supreme Court.


In its true essence, crony capitalism is about favouring a select few, at the cost of all others. In it, those favoured few, due to a nexus between the political class and the business class, amass wealth and occupy a commanding position in the economy. Thus state power is used to get permits, orders, bank loans, tax breaks, government grants etc. to those select few. Money here is made not by competing in the market, but by blocking opportunities to all others. It breeds inequality, disregard for law and a privileged business class, that rules over others, only due to its proximity to power.


By revealing that even the Congress-led UPA government gave his group contracts worth Rs.1 lac crores, Anil Ambani proves his proximity to those in power, irrespective of their party affiliations. The proof of the pudding to judge crony capitalism is not that even the Congress party awarded him contracts, but there are many other questions to be answered before we decide whether he was beneficiary of crony capitalism as RaGa alleges and these are:-


  1. Were those orders/tenders given to them, designed and delivered in favour of the Ambani Group?
  2. Was someone else more eligible to bag contracts, if the regulations were followed, but which were otherwise swung in favour of the Ambani Group?
  • Did the contracts materialise due to Anil Ambani’s well-known access to the highest powers of the land, whether netas or babus?
  1. Did the system ward off and protect the Group from the competition?
  2. Were bank loans easily given to the Group, due to its contacts; despite being not eligible for them?


These answers may not be easy to come by, but to us, by revealing that it got orders of Rs.1 lakh crore from the UPA government, the Anil Ambani group has hit a self-goal, raising more intriguing questions, and perhaps giving credibility to Rahul Gandhi’s allegations, of crony capitalism.


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