The Indian Express Articles
At one point in time, Ramnath Goenka was a friend of Dhirubhai Ambani. Ramnath Goenka was also considered to be close to Nusli Wadia. On many occasions, Ramnath Goenka tried to intervene between the two warring factions and bring an end to the enmity. Goenka and Ambani became rivanckinniveols mainly because Ambanis corrupt business practices and his illegal actions that led to Goenka not getting a fair share in the company. Later on, Ramnath Goenka chose to support Nusli Wadia. At one point of time, Ramnath Goenka is believed to have said Nusli is an Englishman. He cannot handle Ambani. I am a bania. I know how to finish him.
As days passed by, The Indian Express, a broadsheet daily published by him, carried a series of articles against Reliance Industries and Dhirubhai in which they claimed that Dhirubhai was using unfair trade practices to maximise the profits. Ramnath Goenka did not use his staff at the Indian Express to investigate the case but assigned his close confidant, advisor and chartered accountant S. Gurumurthy for this task. Apart from S. Gurumurthy, another journalist Maneck Davar who was not on the rolls of Indian Express started contributing stories. Jamnadas Moorjani, a businessman opposed to the Ambanis was also a part of this campaign.
Both Ambani and Goenka were equally criticized and admired by sections of the society. People criticized Goenka that he was using a national newspaper for the cause of a personal enmity. Critics believed that there were many other businessman in the country who were using more unfair and unethical practices but Goenka chose to target only Ambani and not the others. Critics also admired Goenka for his ability to run these articles without any help from his regular staff. Dhirubhai Ambani was also getting more recognition and admiration, in the meantime. A section of the public started to appreciate Dhirubhais business sense and his ability to tame the system according to his wishes.
The end to this tussle came only after Dhirubhai Ambani suffered a stroke. While Dhirubhai Ambani was recovering in San Diego, his sons Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani managed the affairs. The Indian Express had turned the guns against Reliance and was directly blaming the government for not doing enough to penalize Reliance Industries. The battle between Wadia Goenka and the Ambanis took a new direction and became a national crisis. Gurumurthy and another journalist, Mulgaokar consorted with President Giani Zail Singh and ghost wrote a hostile letter to the Prime Minister on his behalf. The Indian Express published a draft of the President s letter as a scoop, not realizing that Zail Singh had made changes to the letter before sending it to Rajiv Gandhi. Ambani had won the battle at this point. Now, while the tussle was directly between the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Ramnath Goenka, Ambani made a quiet exit. The government then raided the Express guest house in Delhi s Sunder Nagar and found the original draft with corrections in Mulgaokar s handwriting. By 1988 89, Rajiv s government retaliated with a series of prosecutions against the Indian Express. Even then, Goenka retained his iconic stature because, to many people, he seemed to be replaying his heroic defiance during the Emergency regime.