The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil takes family peace plea to god

Hyderabad/ Mumbai, Nov. 27: When mortals bicker, it's time to get the gods to intercede.

Anil Ambani, troubled younger scion of the Reliance empire, today flew down in his Gulfstream IV to Renigunta airport at 10 am with his wife Tina and two sons and then drove up in a white Qualis to the Tirupati temple where he prayed for 'peace and tranquillity' within the badly-riven First Corporate Family of India. They were accompanied by three personal bodyguards.

'I prayed for peace, tranquillity and courage for the entire family,' Anil told reporters when he came out of the temple. 'I have prayed for preserving and enhancing the legacy of my late father Dhirubhai Ambani.'

It's the Dhirubhai legacy that has been in dispute ever since the Reliance Industries board passed a resolution on July 27 that gave unfettered control over the group to older brother Mukesh by recognising him as the final authority.

The resolution has been challenged by Anil and threatens to snowball into an ugly fight that could spill out of the boardroom and into the courts.

Anil, who has been battling his brother for close to four months behind closed doors, has refused to give his side of the story though an inspired leak of the correspondence between the brothers brought the controversial details about the battle into the public domain last Thursday.

But while Anil was seeking the blessings of the gods, reports indicate that Mukesh had chosen a more temporal strategy by starting to confer with the heads of financial institutions who will play a crucial role if the spat between the brothers escalates into a white-knuckle boardroom battle.

M. Damodaran, chairman and managing director of IDBI, is one of several FI honchos who met Mukesh recently, but he refused to say what was discussed.

Foreign as well as domestic institutions together hold close to 40 per cent in Reliance Industries. Since the foreign institutional investors hold about 23 per cent stake, they want an early settlement of the dispute that has wiped out over Rs 2,500 crore of the market value of the company's total shareholding.

Anil flew back to Mumbai soon after his visit to Lord Venkateshwara temple in Tirupati. Later in the evening, both brothers attended an awards function organised by a newspaper group ' the first occasion in a long time that the warring siblings were at the same event. Mukesh came alone. Anil arrived later with Tina.

Sources said Anil visits the Tirupati and Nathdwara temples every year. Last week, he went to Nathdwara with mother Kokilaben. In the past, he has been accompanied by celebrities like the Bachchans, Adi Godrej and Amar Singh.

At the Tirupati temple, Anil's entourage was received by temple officials led by joint executive officer Dharma Reddy and executive officer Ajay Kalam. Witnesses said the couple spent 30 minutes in the first inner circle of the sanctum sanctorum. 'The Ambani couple was almost in tears as they prayed in silence before the deity,' said a temple official.

According to witnesses, Tina donated all the gold jewellery she was wearing in an offering called niluvu dopidi, which is made by the rich during a crisis in their personal or professional lives.

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