MUMBAI: In a rare intervention in the election process, Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman Mukesh Ambani has endorsed Congress candidate from the key Mumbai South Lok Sabha constituency and former union minister Milind Deora. In a video shared by Deora on his twitter handle on Thursday, Ambani, a South Mumbai resident, describes the Congress candidate as “the man for South Mumbai. Having represented South Mumbai for ten years, I believe Milind has in-depth knowledge of social, economic and cultural eco-system of the South Bombay constituency".
Deora has also got a similar backing from billionaire banker and another prominent South Mumbai resident Uday Kotak in the same video. Kotak says he “genuinely feels that Deora is able to relate to Mumbaikars and his family has been associated with Mumbai for a long time. Milind truly represents Mumbai ka connection."
But the video also has small traders and start-up entrepreneurs endorsing the Congress candidate who won in the 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections from this constituency that houses Mumbai’s original business district, significant pockets of Gujarati, Marwari, and Marathi population, and the toniest of Mumbai’s social and cultural life.
A person close to the RIL chairman told Mint on the condition of anonymity that “Mr. Ambani had endorsed Milind strictly in a personal capacity". “He has not endorsed any political party or a candidate of a political party. This is not a political intervention and Mr. Ambani has not endorsed Milind as the RIL chairman. The Ambanis and Deoras have had very close family ties for nearly five decades and Mr. Ambani has seen Milind being born and grow up into a successful person and he is merely endorsing Milind as the right man for the Mumbai South constituency. No politics should be read here," the person told Mint.
Deora himself, however, is apparently elated by the support. "In the last five years industry and trade that is integral part of the spirit of Mumbai lost its voice in the Parliament. I am humbled by the support given by the smallest of traders to stalwarts like Shri Ambani and Shri Kotak. On my election to the Parliament I will strive for creation of a business-friendly environment that facilitate jobs and brings prosperity," Deora told Mint. The video begins with the central theme of “jobs" and has all the people who endorse Deora talking about the need to revive the business climate in Mumbai South.
Mumbai South is also one of those constituencies that have more frequently reported low turnout over the decades in Lok Sabha, assembly, and municipal polls. In fact, the turnout in 2014—52.48%--when Deora lost out to Shiv Sena-BJP’s Arvind Sawant, was the highest since the 1989 election when it was 54.28%. The constituency, however, did have voting percentage over 60% or little less than 60% from 1962 to 1977. This time also, Deora faces a stiff challenge from Sawant who is the Shiv Sena-BJP-RPI candidate.
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