In an unusual move, Reliance Industries issues a press release announcing Niira Radia's exit while Rata Tata calls her engagement "ethical"
It is not everyday that a company issues a press release to announce that a communications consultancy is retiring from business. Far from it. In fact, communication consultancies and their clients keep experimenting with each other with utmost dissatisfaction on both sides. So, it has come as surprise to observers of the business scene that Reliance Industries has gone out of its reticent way to announce the retirement of Niira Radia “from the business of communications consultancy and not renew any of her client mandates.”
Ironically the press release (once again on a Sunday) came into our mailbox from Kirby Furtado of NeUCom Consulting, a Niira Radia outfit substantially devoted to servicing Reliance Industries. The attached word document lists a Reliance spokesperson as the key contact. The text of the release is as follows:
“We regret the decision of Ms. Niira Radia to discontinue her association with the business of communications consultancy and not renew any of her client mandates. We have enjoyed a professional and fulfilling relationship with Ms. Radia and her team over the last three years. Ms. Radia's commitment has been very impressive and she has always led her team in a manner that tactical developments do not lead to a de-focus on the strategic issues.
However, we do appreciate and respect her wishes for a compelling need to focus on her family and personal issues. Ms. Radia leaves behind a very capable team and an indelible mark on the communications consultancy business. We wish her the very best for the future.”
Radia’s exit from the communications consultancy business caps months of muckraking over her role in promoting the interests of Tatas in telecom. Her intense high-pressure lobbying involving politicians, bureaucrats and mediapersons have openly been available on tapes that were leaked to the media. However, while politicians, businessmen and business executives have been held without a trial for months together, Radia, a key player in the 2G controversy has only been questioned a few times.
Separately, in a statement announcing her exit, Radia said: “To give precedence to my personal priorities of family and health, I have decided against renewing any client mandates and to exit the business of communications consultancy,” she said in a statement.
It is a painful decision, taken after much consideration and consultations, the statement added. “I thank our key clients for their understanding and mutual agreement to bring closure to this decision. I am also grateful to them for their support in taking my decision to its logical conclusion, offering assistance in mitigating the damages and thereby fulfilling all our existing contractual commitments,” Ms. Radia said in her statement.
Joining Reliance Industries in the unusual act of praising a lobbyist, the Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata said, “The Tata Group respects the personal wishes of Niira Radia in not renewing any client mandates. She has built Vaishnavi from scratch into the company it is today, often subordinating her personal and family interests in favour of her clients’ priorities.”
He added that Vaishnavi has had the PR mandate of the Tata Group since 2001 during which period it contributed significantly to the building of the Tata Brand. Vaishnavi’s engagement with the Group has been “ethical and satisfactory”, he added.
Meanwhile, announcing an alliance to share clients in public relations and public affairs portfolio, Rediffusion-Y&R and Edelman India, in an email, said that Rediffusion/Edelman unit will service the Tata group. However, it cannot be confirmed with the Tata group, which till yesterday was serviced by Vaishnavi Corporate Communications.