| (From left) Sant Singh Chatwal, Lakshmi Mittal, wife Usha and the groom’s mother Daman at the wedding
New Delhi, Feb. 19: Lakshmi Mittal, the world’s biggest steel maker, caused a near media riot when he arrived in Delhi last night with his wife, Usha, to attend the high society Chatwal wedding.
Mittal refused to make comments on how his battle to take over his main rival, Arcelor, was developing, but it is understood he is encouraged by the supportive stance taken by the Indian government and the positive attitude of the British media.
Even the British government has expressed support in an indirect way with the high commissioner in India, Michael Arthur, advising governments in France, Luxembourg and Spain, which are opposing Mittal’s $22-billion bid for Arcelor, to take lessons from London’s experience with globalisation.
Arthur told PTI: “We as a government in the last 20 years have not resisted overseas hostile takeover bids.”
“It seems that Britain is accepting us,” said Mittal, who disappeared under a scrum of photographers and TV cameramen the moment he arrived at the wedding.
They knew he was a star and he knew they knew he was a star.
Although French President Jacques Chirac is here, it is thought unlikely Mittal will have a meeting with him aimed at softening France’s opposition to the takeover attempt.
In a TV interview, Mittal let it be known that he expected the Indian Prime Minister to broach the subject with Chirac. “I am sure the Prime Minister will take up this issue,” he said.
Indications available from Manmohan Singh’s office, however, suggest the Prime Minister is unlikely to press for a discussion, though the subject could come up in the talks.
Commerce minister Kamal Nath has been fighting Mittal’s battle from India but when he brought up the subject with the Prime Minister, Singh kept quiet.
This morning after the wedding, the Prime Minister dropped in with wife Gursharan Kaur to give his blessings to the couple, Vikram Chatwal, 34, son of the New York-based hotel magnate, Sant Singh Chatwal, and Priya Sachdev, 27, a Delhi model.
The wedding, where western men had help donning pink turbans, took place according to Sikh traditions. The bride wore a pink Tarun Tahiliani organza outfit for the wedding, which concludes a week of festivities that have seen nearly 400 foreign guests brought to Delhi via Mumbai and Udaipur.
This evening, at a black tie affair for 1,000, Bill Clinton, whom the Chatwals know from New York, was due to put in an appearance. Last night, Mittal had a meeting with the former President for which he turned down the offer of dinner with a powerful Indian cabinet minister.
| Priya Sachdev and Vikram Chatwal after their Sikh wedding in Delhi on Sunday. She is wearing a pink organza outfit designed by Tarun Tahiliani. Telegraph picture
There is a suggestion that the week-long holiday for many influential Americans, who have come for the wedding, will lead to greater goodwill between the two countries.
The advantages of wedding diplomacy were discussed by US Congressman, Joseph Crowley, from the Queens in the Bronx, who was taken through the steps of bhangra during last night’s barat by Chatwal senior.
Crowley, a Democrat who is a member of the international relations committee and was co-chairman of the India Caucus in Congress, said events such as weddings offered scope for “forging a more mature relationship between the two countries, though I don’t want to make more of it”.
He believed Clinton had made a great personal contribution towards improving relations between the US and India. And he said that Clinton would continue to be important as Indo-American relations developed.
Crowley said there was a certain amount of prestige and influence attached to the office Clinton had held. “Once a President, always a President.”
Other guests who put in appearances last night included London-based tycoons, Srichand Hinduja and his youngest brother, Ashok. The foreign guests are returning with an exotic taste of India ' and the experience of eating rich Indian food twice a day.
“I shall sleep all the way home to America,” said one woman from Arkansas, Clinton’s home state.