21 January, 2021

‘He Won’t Be A Dynamic Figurehead’

Pranab Mukherjee is closely related to the meteoric rise of Dhirubhai Ambani. We spoke to the latter's biographer

‘He Won’t Be A Dynamic Figurehead’

Pranab Mukherjee is closely related to the meteoric rise of Dhirubhai Ambani, the pivotal character of Hamish McDonald’s The Polyester Prince (published in India as Ambani & Sons). Lola Nayar spoke to McDonald. Excerpts:

How would you describe the evolution of Pranab Mukherjee, his friendship with Dhirubhai Ambani, as a Indira Gandhi and a Rajiv Gandhi man?

He was a friend of Dhirubhai way back when he was a minister for commerce, giving all the export-import licences (to Reliance). And then as finance minister (FM) in the Indira Gandhi government — it goes back to the time of those Isle of Man companies (1979-82), the dummy companies and the mysterious churning of Reliance shares. There were also perceived preferential treatments of the import duties on the ingredients of polyester, such as Reliance vis-a-vis Bombay Dyeing … that’s ancient history now. Then came the Rajiv era, when more or less Rajiv created an arm of the Congress in 1984-85; he saw Mukherjee as...



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