Andhra Pradesh

Why the Jaganmohan Reddy-Mukesh Ambani meeting is significant messaging

The visit of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani to Tadepalli to meet Jaganmohan Reddy was no ordinary visit. It was significant messaging – at a business level, at a political level and at a personal level. On Saturday, Andhra Pradesh chief minister along with wife Bharathi met Ambani and his son, Anant Ambani at his residence for close to two hours.

The meeting took place within days of a Reuters story over Kia Motors wanting to pull out of Andhra Pradesh. Chandrababu Naidu latched on to the news, to highlight the perceived business unfriendly nature of the YSRCP government, pointing out that several other majors including Reliance were no longer interested in investing in Andhra Pradesh. The optics of the Jagan-Ambani meeting was to send the message to Naidu, who made no bones about his friendship with Ambani in the past, that Reliance is still in the game. 

The message was also to the larger business community that even though Jagan does not project himself as CEO of Andhra Pradesh Inc., the way Naidu would, industry is not deserting the state. Ambani’s footprint in Andhra Pradesh would give that confidence to others who are in two minds.

Jagan did ensure Ambani was made to feel special. On a previous occasion when Ambani had called on Naidu as CM, Nara Lokesh had received him at the airport. Rajya Sabha MP and senior YSRCP leader Vijaya Sai Reddy was at hand to personally take Ambani to Jagan’s residence this time around. 

The presence of Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani who is a key member of the core leadership team at Reliance Industries, has led to speculation that he may be fielded from Andhra Pradesh. Nathwani who was elected in March 2014 from Jharkhand is looking for another term and Jagan with his strength in the Andhra Pradesh can send four MPs to the Rajya Sabha in March 2020. If this happens, it will take the YSRCP-Reliance relationship to another level. Besides, with Ambani’s proximity to the powers-that-be, he is an important industrialist to have on Jagan’s right side.

The turnaround is also significant because of the bad blood between the two in the past. Soon after YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s death in a helicopter crash in 2009, Reliance Group was accused of having a hand and a few Reliance Fresh outlets were even attacked. The Tadepalli meeting has pressed the reset button on the relationship. 

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