After court trials, Anil Ambani fancies 'ad' games


The ad accused the Petroleum Ministry of favouring Reliance Industries (RIL), a company run by his elder brother Mukesh Ambani.

The full page advertisements were ostensibly to protect ‘national interest’ on behalf of 8 million shareholders of Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG).

Realising that the luck was not on his side, Anil just changed the track and went full-hog with a multi-crore media campaign — sullying the petroleum ministry of favouring RIL at the cost of the government-owned ‘navaranta’ NTPC in the now famous gas row. 

From surrogate ad-campaigns tarring arch rivals indirectly, corporate India now sees campaigns sullying rivals boldly and directly. Still, until now never witnessed an industrial group taking on the might of the government (to be precise the Petroleum Ministry headed by Murli Deora whose fund raising ability for his party is by now legendary) brazenly on the one hand and attacking RIL the country’s largest private sector company on the other.  

Yet to finish

In this context, an industry observer says “There is a first time for everything — good, bad or whatever. Anil is setting the trend for others to emulate in future.” Going by this latest ad-campaign, it is safe to deduce that for Anil ‘it is not over till it is over.’ And he has taken it to the public this time and not just shareholders alone. “Is this in public or national interest?” asks the ad in its quest for public involvement in the corporate duel.

Ram Jethmalani being his legal counsel too, Anil appears to have borrowed not just few pages but the entire book by throwing up questions — like Jethmalani used to do about the Bofors gun deal. This campaign will continue for now to build pressure against the government in the name of public interest. When Deccan Herald contacted RIL, their spokespersons merely mentioned they don’t have anything to comment.  However, an RIL insider pointed out that ADAG’s charges were baseless. The alleged profit that RIL will make, as claimed by ADAG, is all wrong. He points out that if RIL sold gas at $4.2/unit it would make a profit of Rs 54,000 crore (as against ADAG’s claim of Rs 50,000 crore), but then the government would notch up a profit of Rs 70,000 crore — and not just Rs 500 crore as alleged by ADAG.

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