Rumours of lobbying as Mukesh meets PM

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 15, 2008 01:20 IST

The Congress dismissed charges of corporate lobbying ahead of the July 22 trust vote as industrialist Mukesh Ambani met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the backdrop of the SP’s demand for imposing a windfall tax.

Party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the SP had put the issue in the public domain by making the demand publicly. But mere articulation of the demand does not mean it carries a veto or has been agreed upon, he said. “The government does not act under anyone’s dictates,’’ Singhvi claimed.

Singhvi said the demand for windfall tax was first raised by the Left parties many months ago. “Any decision on it will be a collective one. The tax has not been imposed so far. If and when it is, it will be in the public domain,’’ he added. He also said the dispute between the Ambani brothers has been on for several years now. “To link it with the present situation is wrong,’’ he said.

Privately, government sources said the PM has already indicated he would not be a party to any corporate war and all decisions on economic matters would be taken on merit. But the timing of his meeting with Ambani led to a spate of queries about SP leader Amar Singh’s demand for a windfall tax. Amar Singh is known to be close to Anil Ambani, Mukesh’s brother and rival.

In this context, the party also denied allegations of horsetrading by the CPI and the BJP’s charge that the government is kowtowing to dalals (middlemen).

Noting that the Left has not provided any proof for its allegations that MPs are carrying a price tag of Rs 25 crore, Singhvi chose to come down heavily on the BJP’s “shameless hypocrisy and selective amnesia’’ about its party chief being caught on camera taking money.

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