| (From left) Mukesh Ambani, Pramod Mahajan and Anil Ambani at the function. (AFP)
Mumbai, Dec. 28: A day after Reliance launched its wireless-in-local loop mobile phones at “postcard prices”, the government today feted the business empire’s late founder chairman Dhirubhai H. Ambani by releasing a postal stamp on his birth anniversary.
The entire Ambani clan was present at the programme commemorating his 70th birthday — the first after his death — at which Pramod Mahajan did the honours.
The parliamentary affairs minister said it was only the third time that a leading personality had been honoured on the first birthday after death. Indira Gandhi, Choudhary Devi Lal and Shivaji Ganesan had been similarly feted earlier.
The Ambani matriarch, Kokilaben, was present at the meeting. So were Dhirubhai’s son Anil, who did not attend yesterday’s mobile service launch, with wife Tina and his circle of friends, including Amar Singh, Adi Godrej and Godrej’s wife Parmeshwar.
Ambani sisters Dipti and Nina were seen with spouses Shyam Kothari and Dattatrey Salgaoncar. The Ambani children sat in the third row with their Meswani cousins.
Anil sat with his brother Mukesh, and Mahajan between them. Both reminisced about the life and times of their father and the day he passed away. Mukesh delivered the welcome address and Anil the vote of thanks.
Seated in the front row were Congress leader Murli Deora, Indira Gandhi’s private secretary R.K. Dhawan, Sebi chief G.N. Bajpai, IDBI chief P.P. Vora and HDFC Housing’s Deepak Parekh.
Mahajan did not skip the chance to take a pot shot at his rivals. “The governments that ruled before us never honoured this great son of India, though they would have benefited by his largesse,” he said. Deora, Dhawan and Amar Singh looked unamused.
Among those whose presence made a mark were Kumar Mangalam Birla and his spouse. Conspicuous by their absence were the Tatas and Wadias.
Maitreya Doshi of Premier Automobiles was also seen, as was merchant banker Nimesh Kampani.
“We are all here together in an affectionate circle,” Anil said, adding “Happy birthday, papa.”
Anil said his father had once asked him the definition of a leader. Not satisfied with any of his replies, Dhirubhai had told him a leader was one who attracted followers.
Mukesh escorted family guru Rameshbhai Oza and nudged Harish Bhimani, the master of ceremonies, to call his uncle Ramnikbhai Ambani for the family photograph.