Modi govt. wants to ‘hand over’ India’s food grain logistics to Adani Group, says Congress

Party communication chief Jairam Ramesh says the motivation behind the ill-conceived farm laws was to hand over India’s agricultural logistics to the PM’s “close cronies”

Published - March 09, 2023 09:30 pm IST - New Delhi

Senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh | File photo

Senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh | File photo | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

As part of the ongoing Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun (HAHK) series, the Congress on Thursday claimed that the Narendra Modi government wants to “hand over” the foodgrain logistics of the country to the Adani Group.

In his 25th statement under the HAHK series, Congress communication chief Jairam Ramesh claimed that such a “conspiracy” was only temporarily foiled by the farmers’ agitation that forced the withdrawal of three farm laws.

“A lap of honour around the stadium he got named after himself in his own lifetime is a good occasion for heralding a quarter century of pointed questions with Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun, ”Mr. Ramesh tweeted, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese taking a lap of the Narendra Modi stadium in Ahmedabad just ahead of the fourth Test between India and Australia.

“The publication ‘AdaniWatch’ has reported that on October 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of India quashed a June 30, 2021 Gujarat High Court judgment that favoured Adani Ports and SEZ over the government-owned Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC), and said that the High Court judgment ‘is not sustainable in law’. The corporation was set up in 1957 to support India’s food storage needs and stored 55 lakh tonnes of food grains in 2021-22,” Mr. Ramesh said.

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“The Supreme Court observed that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had supported the CWC’s stand while the Ministry of Commerce and Industry had aided Adani’s bid to take control of two major CWC warehouses near Mundra port by not supporting the denotification of the warehouses as part of the Adani SEZ,” he claimed, adding, “The judgment stated that ‘it does not augur well for the Union of India to speak in two contradictory voices’ and that ‘two departments of the Union of India cannot be permitted to take stands which are diagonally opposite’”.

The Congress leader asked why did the Commerce Ministry, then headed by Nirmala Sitharaman, take a stand opposed to a strategic public-sector corporation and in support of the Prime Minister’s “favourite business group”.

“Would she have the courage to do so without clear directions from above?” he asked.

Mr. Ramesh claimed that “this Adani-inspired inter-ministerial conflict” was allowed to continue even after Piyush Goyal became Minister of Commerce and Industry (in May 2019) as well as Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (in October 2020).

‘For close cronies’

“The entire country knows that the motivation behind the ill-conceived farm laws was to hand over India’s agricultural logistics to a few of your [Prime Minister] close cronies,” Mr. Ramesh alleged.

“One of the biggest beneficiaries of the farm laws would have been Adani Agri Logistics which has become the major beneficiary of the Food Corporation of India’s silo contracts, the most recent award being one to set up 3.5 lakh metric tonnes of storage in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” he added.

Meanwhile, Adani Farm-Pik was allowed to build a near-monopoly on apple procurement in Himachal Pradesh, he alleged.

The Congress leader questioned if India’s public sector, that has been painstakingly built over the past 70 years, is now being reduced to a vehicle for the enrichment of the “Prime Minister’s corporate friends”.

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