NEW DELHI―On Thursday morning, Milind Deora, the Congress candidate from Mumbai South constituency, tweeted a short video clip with a cross-section of people endorsing his candidature. On any other election day, this would have been a routine development with limited popular interest.
However, Deora’s name soon started trending on Twitter—his video, it turned out, included an open and unrestrained endorsement from India’s richest man and Chairman of Reliance Industries Limited, Mukesh Ambani.
“Milind is the man for South Mumbai. Having represented South Mumbai for 10 years, I believe that Milind has in-depth knowledge of social, economic, and cultural ecosystem of the South Mumbai constituency. 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,” Ambani says in the video.
While Ambani is known to be close to most politicians, he has never openly taken a stand for or against any individual. The timing also struck many as significant, since the Congress has based its ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ campaign against Narendra Modi on the alleged kickbacks a company owned by Anil Ambani, brother of Mukesh, received from the Rafale deal with France’s Dassault Aviation.
Another prominent businessman in the video is billionaire banker and promoter of Kotak Mahindra Bank, Uday Kotak, who also gives a thumbs-up to Deora. “Milind truly represents Mumbai ka connection,” he says.
HuffPost India reached out to Reliance Industries Limited and Kotak Mahindra Bank to understand why their leaders decided to take a rare political stand for an opposition politician. A spokesperson for Kotak Mahindra Bank said Uday Kotak’s participation in the video reflected his personal endorsement of Deora and did not affect the bank at all. This person also added that this should not be seen as an endorsement of the Congress. RIL did not respond to an email questionnaire...