The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Equality on Anil lips

Mumbai, Nov. 29: Anil Ambani today fired off a second letter ' this time to the employees of flagship company Reliance Industries ' that took another crack at elder brother Mukesh for trying to foist himself as the 'final authority' on all decisions within India's largest business house.

Terming Mukesh and himself the 'co-creators' who built Reliance Industries into one of the world's most admired companies under the tutelage of Dhirubhai Ambani, Anil indicated that they had enjoyed equal status for more than 20 years.

'It has been a journey marked by successive milestones of togetherness. We became executive directors, joint managing directors and managing directors at the same time,' Anil said in his letter.

However, he overlooked the crucial fact that Mukesh had held the post of vice-chairman and managing director in the last years of Dhirubhai.

The letter, which runs into two pages, alternately tugged at the heartstrings and dripped with sarcasm. 'I am personally saddened, like all of you, at the developments of the last two weeks, and I thought I would share with you some of my feelings,' the younger Ambani wrote.

Anil maintained that he had to yet to respond on many issues. 'As already communicated, I will not comment on any issues at this stage, and may do so only at an appropriate time, if necessary.'

It was a gentle hint that there was more ammunition he could use if the situation worsened. This was the second letter Anil wrote to employees ahead of Reliance Energy's board meeting tomorrow which is expected to discuss the resignations of six directors who are believed to be close to the younger scion.

On Sunday, Anil had written to Reliance Energy employees telling them that he did not have any personal shareholding in Reliance Energy and that he, like them, was there as a 'professional'.

Recalling that he was with Reliance Industries since December 1982, he said: 'I joined Reliance Industries Ltd as a young management trainee fresh from completing MBA, in the founding business of our company, textiles.'

To buttress his statement about being a co-creator, he recalled a statement made by Mukesh in 1997 when they were jointly honoured as 'businessmen of the year'.

Anil said he had told Mukesh, 'We are not inheritors. We have built this company along with our father.' Mukesh concurred by saying, 'We are his (Dhirubhai's) partners. It has almost been like a joint venture.'

In another gentle nudge, he recounted that it had been a 'privilege' to propose Mukesh's name as chairman and managing director of Reliance after their father died 'and I received his support to be appointed as vice-chairman and managing director'.

Taking a dig at Mukesh, he recounted what his father had told him: 'You can either demand respect, or command respect. Nothing will please me more if you command respect.'

He also quoted Dhirubhai's earthy wisdom to him: 'Just watch out for the 3 Cs ' chamchas, chelas, and cronies!'

This statement, observers say, is Anil's way of saying that the differences have been exacerbated by people close to Mukesh.

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