The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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All that rings isn’t Reliance
- Keen to exhibit rapport with Anil, Amar gets wrong call

Lucknow, May 12: First, there were three As ' Amar, Anil and Amitabh. Today, there were two ' Amar and Amitabh.

Anil Ambani couldn’t come. Nor did he call, though Amar Singh waited expectantly, keeping a group of journalists waiting, too, to listen to him talk to his businessman friend, to hear how the two remained committed to each other.

“Anil Ambani could not be present. However, he said he would call from Africa. When he calls, you can hear his voice assuring his association with us,” Singh told the reporters after he concluded this year’s first meeting of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council since the phone-tapping scandal broke.

Singh, the chairman of the council, had switched the phone on to microphone mode.

Ambani is a member of the council, a post he had accepted by virtue of his friendship with Singh ' an alliance that also led to his becoming a Rajya Sabha member with the Samajwadi Party’s support.

Singh, general secretary of the party, had found himself in a compromising position after alleged taped conversations he had had with various people ' including film stars and businessmen ' became public knowledge some months ago.

In the wake of this controversy, Ambani resigned his Rajya Sabha position. He, however, cited as reason for his quitting another controversy that was raging at the time over MPs holding offices of profit. Sonia Gandhi had resigned before that.

Speculation then suggested that Ambani had quit to put some distance between himself and Singh, in particular, and politics, in general. There were also rumours that his association with Singh and the Samajwadi Party was costing him in terms of business. Relations between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party are bitter.

While quitting the MP’s post, Ambani had said: “In public life, one must uphold the highest standards of transparency, propriety and ethics and avoid the possibility of a controversy, however remote or unlikely. Keeping this in mind, I have decided to tender my resignation from the Rajya Sabha with immediate effect.”

Ambani had stepped down though his name did not appear on the list of MPs holding offices of profit sent to the Election Commission.

He has continued to hold his membership of the UP council. His company is building a huge project in the state at a cost of over Rs 17,000 crore. Since some observers assumed his decision to quit as MP was a move to distance himself from Singh, it had cast a shadow on the Dadri project.

It seems the question was on Singh’s mind, too. “Please do not carry the impression that the Dadri power project has run into trouble. Anil could not be present. The project is on and it is being expedited, Anil has assured me,” he said, as the call did not come.

The phone did ring, though. Singh picked it up expectantly, but then said: “It was not a call from Anil.”

Officials in the Ambani camp refused comment.

If there was disappointment, there was delight, too. Amitabh Bachchan, also a member of the council, turned up. “I have already said I would try my best to invite film producers to shoot in various locations (in Uttar Pradesh). In my family there is another star, Abhishek. I have asked him to try and persuade producers to come here for location shootings whenever the script required. Scripts these days require producers to go abroad,” he said.

Kumarmangalam Birla, who is expected to build a power project in Roza, near Shahjahanpur, had come, too. As had Subrata Roy, of Sahara.

Alas, neither’s name begins with an A.

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