New Delhi: A belligerent Rahul Gandhi Tuesday led a blistering opposition attack in Lok Sabha over the Hindenburg report, claiming that the meteoric rise in Gautam Adani’s fortunes happened after the BJP came to power in 2014 as he rose in the global rich list from the 609th to the second spot eventually.
The Congress leader’s remarks drew a sharp response from the treasury benches, with Law Minister Kiren Rijiju asking him not to level ”wild allegations” and to furnish proof of his claims.
Outside Parliament, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad accused Rahul Gandhi of making baseless, shameless and reckless allegations and charged that the Congress and the Gandhi family were involved in ”big scams” that ”tarnished” the image of the country.
Speaker Om Birla disapproved of the Congress leader displaying certain pictures in the House.
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”If you show posters, they (BJP) will show posters of the Rajasthan chief minister (with Adani). Parliament is not for these things,” Birla said.
Participating in the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in Lok Sabha as the first Opposition speaker, Gandhi made a barrage of allegations against Modi.
He asked how much money Adani has given to the BJP in the last 20 years, including through electoral bonds.
Speaker Birla asked Gandhi to focus on the President’s address.
”There should be a case study on Adani by business schools such as Harvard, on how the relationship between business and politics works, India is a case study,” Gandhi said.
He also hit out at Modi for slamming the Opposition over its criticism of the Rafale deal by allegedly overlooking the capabilities of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
”Yesterday, the prime minister said at HAL that we hurled wrong allegations. But in reality, HAL’s contract of 126 aircraft went to Anil Ambani, who then went bankrupt,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi, who just completed his over 4,000-km Bharat Jodo Yatra, said people asked him how Adani got into so many businesses and succeeded.
”From Tamil Nadu, Kerala to Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, we have been hearing one name everywhere ‘Adani’. Across the entire country, it’s just ‘Adani’, ‘Adani’, ‘Adani’…,” Gandhi said.
He said that during the yatra people also asked him how Adani’s net worth increased from USD 8 billion to USD 140 billion between 2014 and 2022.
”In 2014, he was in 609th spot on the list of richest people and climbed to the second spot,” the former Congress chief said.
Gandhi also raised the issue of the report by US-based Hindenburg Research, saying it alleged that Adani has shell companies abroad.
Pointing out that Adani works in strategic sectors, he said the government must find out about these shell companies as to who controls them as this is a national security issue.
The Opposition has been demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe or a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the allegations of fraud and manipulation made by Hindenburg Research against Adani’s companies that triggered an unprecedented stock crash. The group has denied the charges.
Gandhi alleged that the government tweaked rules in favour of Adani and said the clause that no one without any prior experience would be involved in the development of airports was done away with.
”This rule was changed by the government and Adani was given six airports. After that India’s most strategic, profitable airport, Mumbai Airport, was taken away from GVK using agencies,” he alleged.
”The result is 24 per cent of India’s air traffic and 31 per cent of air freight passes through Adani’s airports,” Gandhi said.
The treasury benches repeatedly asked Gandhi to authenticate his claims, saying that such allegations cannot be levelled against the government without documentary evidence.
”Adani never made drones while HAL used to do it and other companies do it. They have four defence firms and had not done this work before, small arms, sniper rifles, all are made by Adani,” he said.
Adani group has a 30 per cent market share in the airports business and also controls 90 per cent of Israel-India defence cooperation, he claimed.
”I was asked by the people during the Yatra as to why LIC’s money is being put into the Adani group. They also asked why LIC’s funds are being put in Adani’s shares, which are volatile,” he said.
Participating in the debate, Gandhi also questioned the Agniveer scheme for recruiting defence personnel claiming that youths aspiring to be in the army were not on the same page as the government on the scheme.
Senior officers have said the scheme will weaken the army and it came from outside the Army, from the RSS and Home ministry, he claimed.
”They said that the Agniveer scheme came from outside and (National Security Advisor) Ajit Doval had forced it on the forces,” Gandhi said, evoking objections from the treasury benches which claimed that the official’s name should not be taken.
He said the main concerns of the people such as unemployment and price rise were not even mentioned in the president’s address.
Speaker Birla said that comments should not be made outside the House that mics are turned off, to which Gandhi said, ”It is the reality that you do turn off the mics.” Congress and its leaders were involved in all big scams which tarnished the image of India, he alleged.