Questioning what exactly is at stake for the BJP, Congress national general secretary and former Union minister, Ajay Maken, on Friday accused the Modi government of being hand-in-glove with Adani, who stands charged with manipulating stocks.
Congress leaders Sachin Pilot and Ajay Maken spearheaded the party’s campaign against the business tycoon. “As part of the Hum Adani Ke Hain Kaun series, the day saw 23 Congress leaders address press conferences across 23 locations in the country.
While Pilot held press conferences in Bengaluru, Maken chaired one in Ahmedabad while Deepender Hooda addressed the media in Bhopal.
At the media briefing in Ahmedabad, Maken showed documents to support his charge that on July 19, 2021, the finance ministry admitted in Parliament that Adani Group was under investigation for violating Sebi rules. Nevertheless, the prices of Adani Group shares were allowed to jump. “The value of Adani Group shares bought by LIC stood at Rs 83,000 crore as on December 30, 2022. Despite a fall in share prices and serious allegations of fraud by the group post the Hindenburg report, the Modi government forced LIC to invest an additional Rs 300 crores in the Adani Enterprises follow-on public offer (FPO). Nearly 30 crore LIC policy-holders stand affected,” he stated.
Maken reminded critics that the Congress government formed a Joint Parliamentary Committee in 1992 to probe the Harshad Mehta case and Atal Bihari Vajpayee government did the same in 2001 to investigate the Ketan Mehta scam. In this backdrop, he questioned why is the government refusing to probe deeper, despite small investors having lost nearly Rs 10.5 lakh crores in the market.
Maken further alleged that excerpts related to Adani in speeches made by Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge, in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively, have been removed from the records of the House.
Taking forward the series of allegations, he said that in the Ketan Parekh scam of 2001, SEBI had detected that Adani was involved in manipulating the stock market.
Accusing Adani and the Modi government of colluding, Maken said that on June 14, 2022, the Adani Group announced that it would invest $50 billion in green hydrogen under a partnership with France’s Total Energies. On January 4, 2023, the Union Cabinet approved Rs 19,744 crore for National Green Hydrogen Mission. “Post the report, Total Energies backed out of the venture but the government of India continues to shield Adani,” he charged.
Maken further pointed out at how Adani Group has become the biggest private player in the airports sector. “From 2019 to 2021, it was handed over the deal for six airports, including the questionable acquisition of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. Likewise, Adani Group controls 13 ports and terminals, which account for 30 per cent of India’s port capacity and 40 per cent of total container movement. Who is pushing this expansion and who benefits?” he questioned.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Thursday alleged that Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod Adani had set up at least 38 shell entities in Mauritius.
Adani Group stocks took a beating after US-based activist short-seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation, in a report released on January 24. The Adani Group has dismissed the allegations as lies. Opposition parties, led by the Congress, have been demanding a JPC probe or a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the allegations.