The Central government led by Narendra Modi is handing over the country’s wealth to the Adani Group, in the same way that the British East India Company had taken it away from India, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said while addressing his party’s 85th plenary session on Sunday.
Warning that ‘history is repeating itself’, Mr. Gandhi said that “Modi ji and Adani ji are one” and that was why the Opposition was not allowed to ask questions about business tycoon Gautam Adani in Parliament. He then asserted that he would continue to ask question about Mr. Adani until the truth came out.
The former Congress chief also urged the party leadership to formulate a new plan to carry forward the “tapasya (penance)“ undertaken through the Bharat Jodo Yatra, indicating that another yatra could be on the cards, along the east-west route this time.
Mr. Gandhi’s focus in the 50-minute-long speech, addressing 17,000-odd delegates, was divided between the Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) and the Adani group.
Talking about the Jammu & Kashmir leg of the BJY, the Congress leader said that the yatra had made Kashmiri youth carry the national flag, even in terrorism-infested districts like Pulwama and Anantnag.
“I heard the Prime Minister say in Parliament that he had also hoisted the national flag in Lal Chowk. India’s Prime Minister didn’t understand the difference. Narendra Modi ji along with 15-20 BJP people hoisted the flag. Bharat Jodo Yatra made lakhs of Kashmiri youth hoist the tricolour,” he said.
Mr Gandhi also took on the BJP’s nationalism plank by referring to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s recent statement that as China was a big economy, it was common sense not to pick a fight with it.
“When the British ruled us, was their economy smaller than ours? Do you not fight if someone is stronger than you? There is a word for this: cowardice. This is [Vinayak Damodar] Savarkar’s ideology, to bow down before the powerful. An Indian Minister is telling China, ‘your economy is bigger and we can’t fight with you’. Do you call this nationalism? What kind of patriotism is this?” he asked.
In the second half of his speech, the Congress leader made a focussed attack on the Adani group and its relations with Mr. Modi and his government.
The Adani connection
“When we asked in Parliament, ‘what is the Prime Minister’s relation with Adani’, our entire speech is expunged. [Mallikarjun] Kharge ji’s entire speech was expunged. We will ask in Parliament thousands of times till the truth of Adani ji is out, we will not stop,” Mr. Gandhi said, amid applause.
Repeating many of the points that he had raised in the Lok Sabha, the Congress leader questioned how Mr. Adani rose from the 609th to the second spot on the global billionaires list; asked how India’s foreign policy helped the Adani Group in countries like Israel, Australia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; and expressed concerns about alleged shell companies, especially given the Adani Group’s involvement in the defence sector and other key sectors like airports, ports, agriculture and agricultural storage.
He also questioned why several Union Ministers had to come to the defence of one businessman. “I had asked a simple question on Modi ji and Adani ji’s relationship. The simple answer could have been ‘there is no relation’. But there is a relation. Adani ji and Modi are one,” Mr. Gandhi said.
“I want to tell the people who work for Adani ji’s company that their company is hurting the country and it is snatching the entire infrastructure of country,” Mr. Gandhi said. “Remember that the freedom struggle started against the East India Company and that too was a company. History is being repeated. This is against the country and if that happens, the entire Congress party will stand against it,” he added.
After Mr. Gandhi’s all-out attack on the Adani Group, Congress general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal announced that the party would undertake a series of programmes to “expose the Modi government’s link with the corporate group”.