In an unprecedented move, Ratan Tata, interim Chairman of Tata Group, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, informing him about the decision of the Board of Directors of Tata Sons to replace chairman Cyrus P Mistry.
In the letter, Rata Tata informed PM Modi that the salt-to-software conglomerate is putting in place a new management structure and a selection committee has been constituted to identify the next Chairman of Tata Sons in four months.
Ratan Tata’s letter to PM Modi has surprised many, especially as it comes just a few days after the former expressed concern over alleged growing intolerance in the country. Calling intolerance “a curse we are seeing of late”, Ratan Tata had told reporters in Gwalior: “I think everybody knows where the intolerance is coming from, what it is. Like many thousands, millions of Indians, one wants to see a country without intolerance.”
Ever since the BJP came to power in 2014, the opposition parties have accused it and PM Modi of fueling intolerance in the country. When the intolerance debate was almost dead, Ratan Tata revived it out of the blue and the Congress latched up to it.
While Ratan Tata’s letter to PM Modi may drive many to link it with the former’s remarks on intolerance, some are also questioning as to why the chairman of a private organisation facing management change has written to PM Modi.
However, it is not the first time when a corporate group has either used PM Modi’s name or face for its benefit.
In September, Reliance Jio had featured PM Modi’s image on the front pages of newspapers to promote the new service offered by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Limited. The move had triggered a debate, with some experts, and especially the opposition, alleging a nexus between PM Modi and Ambani.
Now with Ratan Tata’s letter, one can clearly infer that using Modi’s face or name is not so much about any nexus, but more about the PM’s growing stature, which corporate India can’t afford not to bank upon.
Cyrus Mistry’s removal has shocked experts, Tata Group employees and shareholders. Before directly approaching scores of shareholders, Ratan Tata thought it wise to inform PM Modi. He probably believes that shareholders may believe in Modi more than his own assurances, especially when some experts like TV Mohandas Pai claim that Tata’s decision to remove Mistry shows the group doesn’t appreciate or want to change.
How much Tata Group would gain from the letter, however, remains to be seen.