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Mukesh meets PM Manmohan Singh

Mukesh Ambani meets PM in the midst of Samajawadi Party leader Amar Singh targeting India's largest company seeking a windfall profit tax on group's oil business.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 15, 2008 01:07 AM IST

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

According to spokesman Abhishek Singhvi, in publicly making its demand the SP had put the issue in the public domain. 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, adding, “one should not go by any speculation but what is the government’s collective decision on such issues.”

Singhvi made two points. One, that 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. Two, 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 that he would not be a party to any corporate warfare 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 corporate rival.

In this context, the party also denied allegations of horse trading made by CPI’s A B Bardhan and the BJP’s charge of the government kowtowing to dalals ((middlemen) and dalali.

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