In many ways, the news that Gujarat NRE and Jindal Steel have finally consummated their marriage is a joyous occasion even if, for one of the parties, it must have seemed more like a shotgun wedding than an act of the purest love.
Yet before the champagne could be cracked and the caviar served, many of the guests were left with a sour taste.
We refer, of course, to Gujarat’s 500 or so long-suffering workers, and an unknown number of local subcontractors and suppliers, who still don’t know when they will get the money they have earned, money they need to put food on the family table, put petrol in their cars and pay their creditors.
Gujarat chairman Arun Jagatramka couldn’t say.
Nor could his new partner, Jindal’s representative on the Gujarat board, Jasbir Singh.
According to Mr Jagatramka, it is a board issue: ‘‘As a board, we will be meeting after this meeting and we will be discussing these things.”
It was the best he could offer: ‘‘I believe we should be able to come out with a statement in the next few days. The thing is, we have to sort out many things, before we actually start working.’’
But Mr Jagatramka, your workers have already been hard at work and they deserve better than this.
Yesterday’s deal was not a last-minute decision of two young lovers to elope. It has been foreshadowed for months and, in recent weeks, has become increasingly inevitable.
Yes, it is true that Gujarat has at best been a reluctant bride.
And yes, it is true that until yesterday’s vote, nothing was certain.
Nevertheless, the actual decision was hardly a surprise. Not exactly from left field.
It was foreseeable and, in hard-core financial terms, its impact was measurable.
Surely, the board and management of Gujarat — and Jindal — know what state they are in, and they certainly knew the terms of Jindal’s proposal.
Why then did Gujarat not crunch the numbers, in advance of yesterday’s vote, so that workers could be given the news so they desperately await?
Realistically, no one expected Mr Jagatramka to leave the meeting and immediately start handing out bags of money to the workers.
Clearly, before that can happen, money will have to change hands between Jindal and Gujarat.
There will be pencils to be pushed, spreadsheets to be crunched, forms to be filled out.
But at the very least, it should have been possible to give the workers a date when they could expect to be paid.
That should have been possible. It was certainly desirable.
The fact that it wasn’t done is nothing short of reprehensible.