Mukesh Ambani, Uday Kotak endorse Congress’ Milind Deora for Mumbai South seat

Urmila Matondkar (left) campaigns for Milind Deora. (Express Photo)

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) chairman Mukesh Ambani set off tremors in political and corporate circles on Thursday with an open declaration of support for Congress leader Milind Deora, who is contesting from the South Mumbai Lok Sabha constituency.

Ambani's endorsement was featured in a 2.17-minute campaign video for Deora that included endorsements by several other prominent residents of south Mumbai including Kotak Bank head Uday Kotak, praising him for his work in the constituency. Rarely, if ever, has Ambani or others in his family come out in open support of a candidate or party in this manner prior to an election.

Deora recently took charge as the president of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee and is contesting from South Mumbai against sitting Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant.

"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 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 said in the video.

On a similar note, Kotak is seen saying in the video, "Milind truly represents Mumbai ka connection. I genuinely believe that Milind understands South Mumbai. His family is associated with Mumbai for a long time."

Krish Ramnani of Togglehead Private Limited is also among those seen in the video.

Deora later released a statement thanking Ambani, Kotak and the other businessmen and trading associations who declared support for him.

"In the last five years, industry and trade that is an integral part of the spirit of Mumbai lost its voice in the parliament. I am humbled the support given by stalwarts like Shri Ambani and Shri Kotak. On my election to the parliament I will strive for creation of a business-friendly environment that facilitate jobs and brings prosperity," he said.

A close associate of the Ambani family dismissed the suggestion that Ambani had endorsed the Congress through his backing for Deora. He said Dhirubhai Ambani and Milind Deora's father, Murli Deora, were good friends and the two families knew each other for over 50 years.

"Mukesh Ambani has spoken in the video in his personal capacity and not as the chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd. He has known Milind Deora since his childhood. The two families are very close. And he is not endorsing any party. He is only talking about Deora and South Mumbai constituency," said the source.

EC directs returning officer to file FIR against Deora for violating MCC

Mumbai: The Election Commission (EC) has issued a notice to South Mumbai candidate Milind Deora over violating the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), after a complaint was filed against him for making certain statements during a campaign meeting with the Jain community. "We have asked the Returning Officer (RO) concerned to file an FIR against him for violating MCC," said an EC official.

The complaint against Deora was filed by advocate Dharmendra Mishra on April 8, alleging that during a public meeting at Zaveri Bazar in Bhuleshwar on April 2, Deora, with the intent to gain the confidence of the general public, intentionally and purposely delivered a false speech and made false statements. (ENS)