THEY MAY BE the world’s richest brothers, but if anything, that only makes the sibling rivalry between them more intense. Since the division of the spoils, Mukesh and Anil Ambani have constantly sniped at each other. Whether it was Mukesh scuppering Anil’s deal with South Africa’s MTN, or Anil insisting on the pre-arranged price for the KG-basin gas, the slugfest resembles the fratricidal war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas that became the Mahabharata. The moral high ground is difficult to determine. What does seem inevitable is that the take-no-prisoners attitude is likely to leave both bloodied, if not embarrassed.
Shantanu Guha Ray takes an irreverent look at the relevant agenda, deconstructing the drama into the simplest questions and answers by the leading dramatis personae
What on earth are Mukesh and Anil fighting about (I mean, aren’t they as rich as the Ambanis)?
MURLI DEORA I don’t know any rich men
MUKESH AMBANI My father was a rich man
ANIL AMBANI My brother is a richer man
What does this gas mean to the aam aadmi?
MURLI It connects him to wealth
MUKESH It makes him a stakeholder in national progress
ANIL It makes him a party to national decline
How is Deora connected to this gas?
MURLI By the long arm of friendship
MUKESH By competence, honesty and national interest
ANIL (lamenting) Chacha, aap to aise na the
What did the courts say about the slugfest?
MURLI I forgot to tell them what to say
MUKESH They told me to speak to my mom. But her RCom handset kept blipping out
ANIL Go ask your mummy – aur maa to mere pass hai!
Who’s helping the brothers fight the war?
MURLI Oh, where’s Milind gone now?
MUKESH So many Mulayams
ANIL So many Murlis
How are other ministries — other than petroleum and natural gas — involved in the war?
MURLI The law is into gas
MUKESH The gas is the law
ANIL The law is an ass
Does the government gain by getting into the battle?
MURLI Mukesh’s gain is the government’s gain
MUKESH The government’s gain is Reliance’s gain
ANIL The only gain is more pain
How much gas is there in the KG-basin?
MURLI Enough for the aam aadmi
MUKESH Not enough for that bakwaas aadmi
ANIL More than enough for this khaas aadmi
Is there life without gas?
MURLI In Indian politics, no
MUKESH In Indian business, no
ANIL In Indian life, no. But I am Abhimanyu inside the chakravyuh – I may lose the battle, but my side can still win the war