Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come clean on fresh allegations against the Adani Group and said he must order a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into them as India’s reputation is at stake ahead of the G20 summit in the country.
Launching a scathing attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre, Gandhi said at a press conference this is a “national issue” and all opposition parties are together on the matter.There are no differences within the INDIA alliance over the issue, asserted the Congress MP, who is in Mumbai to take part in a two-day conclave of the opposition bloc that began at a luxury hotel. He claimed the ruling party is in “panic” on the Adani issue and that is why a special session of Parliament has been convened from September 18.
Referring to the fresh set of allegations made by some top global financial dailies that there is a “relationship” between Adani and Prime Minister Modi, Gandhi said this is affecting the country’s global image and its reputation is at stake just before the G20 summit. He asked why central probe agencies like the ED and the CBI are not investigating Adani. “India’s reputation is on the line…This is damaging the image of the country and therefore the Prime Minister should take action immediately and say that a JPC will probe this and a full-scale investigation will take place on the Adani issue,” Gandhi said. The G20 leaders’ summit at the level of Heads of State/Government is scheduled to be held on September 9 and 10 in New Delhi. India currently holds the presidency of the influential intergovernmental forum of the world’s major developed and developing economies.
Asked about the convening of the special session of Parliament from September 18 and what it indicates, the Lok Sabha MP said, “I think, it’s an indicator of a little panic same type of panic that happened when I spoke in Parliament house, panic that suddenly made them revoke my Parliament membership.” “So, I think, it is panic because these matters are very close to the Prime Minister and whenever you touch the Adani matter, the Prime Minister gets very uncomfortable and very nervous,” he noted. India has said there is a level-playing field, India is transparent and there is no corruption, but the revelations are putting the reputation of the country and the Prime Minister under question, the opposition leader maintained.
He noted that while India is trying to show to the world it is a transparent economy and has a level-playing field, the question that arises is that “this one gentleman who is close to the Prime Minister of India was allowed to move a billion dollars and pump up the share price.” “Why is there no investigation taking place? It is very important that the Prime Minister clears his name and categorically explains what is going on. At the very least, a JPC should be allowed and a thorough investigation should take place,” Gandhi said. He claimed papers are saying there is a relationship between Adani and Modi, the question is what is that relationship. The former Congress president asked why agencies such as the ED and the CBI are not interrogating Adani. “I can’t understand why the Prime Minister is not forcing an investigation, why is he quiet. Why doesn’t he say he will make sure this issue is investigated and the people who are responsible are put behind bars. This is raising very serious questions about the Indian Prime Minister just before the leaders of G20 are coming here,” Gandhi said, noting world leaders are going to ask the question about this special company owned by a gentleman close to the PM.
“Why is it that in an economy like India, this gentleman is being given a free ride? They are going to ask this question and I think it is very important that this matter is made clear before they arrive,” Gandhi asserted. Asked about any differences within the opposition alliance over the issue, he replied in the negative. “I don’t think there is any difference in opinion. We are very clear – a JPC should be called and this matter needs to be investigated. This is a matter of India’s global reputation and should be investigated,” said the MP from Wayanad in Kerala. “The Prime Minister should come clean. The Prime Minister should say – yes, I announce a JPC. I announce an investigation into Mr Adani, I announce an investigation into this (two foreign nationals) Chang Chung-Ling and also into this Nasir Ali Shaban Ahli. So, this is the duty of the PM,” he said.
Gandhi noted the claims made in the report published by the financial dailies of USD 1 billion being pumped into Adani group companies’ shares to inflate their prices are of grave concern and must be investigated. “These are newspapers that affect investment in India. They affect the perception of our country. There are a few questions that these newspapers are asking,” he said. “The first question arises: whose money is that? Is this Adani ji’s money or someone else’s money? The second question is that the mastermind behind this is a gentleman called Vinod Adani, he is the brother of Gautam Adani. There are two other people who are involved in this round tripping of money, one is a gentleman called Nasir Ali Shaban Ahli and another is a Chinese gentleman called Chang Chung Ling,” the Congress leader claimed.
He said facts about the two foreign nationals must come out. “Why are these foreign nationals being allowed to play with the valuation of one of the companies that controls almost all of Indian infrastructure? Who are these people and why are they allowed to do this and what is the role of Mr Adani in that,” he asked. The former Congress chief said it very interesting to note that there was an investigation after evidence was given and stock market regulator SEBI gave a clean chit to Adani. “It is very interesting to note the very gentleman who gave a clean chit to Mr Adani is today a director in Adani-owned channel NDTV. So it is very clear that there is something very wrong here,” he noted.
Asked about the role of SEBI and its investigation, Gandhi said, “What is amazing to me is that the gentleman who has done the investigation is today an employee of Mr Adani. What does that tell you about the nature of the investigation? It is pretty clear no investigation took place and the only reason that no investigation took place is because the PM did not want any investigation to take place. Mr Adani cannot stop an investigation, the Prime Minister can.” Asked whether partners of the opposition bloc are together on the issue and will support him in raising it, he said, “With regards to the INDIA alliance, this is a national issue. This is not an issue of any one party. This is an issue that affects India’s reputation, especially because there is G20 (summit) taking place and India’s reputation and the Prime Minister’s reputation is on the line.”
The Congress MP said G20 guests coming to India and right in front of them, two of the biggest financial dailies in the world have said the Prime Minister has ties with Adani. Gandhi said the issue is that today there is no level-playing field and the billionaire businessman can buy any asset in India — be it Dharavi (a slum colony in the metropolis whose redevelopment is to be done by an Adani group firm), the Mumbai airport, cement company or defence firm. “The question is of the level-playing field. Why is the PM protecting one person in this way and that one person is buying all the assets of the country and clearly that person has done wrong,” he said.