Opposition parties on Tuesday took on the government in the Lok Sabha over the Hindenburg report on the Adani Group, questioning why the conglomerate was being shielded and no action had been taken against it. The treasury benches on in response attacked the opposition on issues ranging from land acquisition in Amethi to the Adani Group’s interests in opposition-ruled States like Rajasthan and West Bengal.
Participating in the debate on the Motion on Thanks to the President’s address, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi asked why raising allegations against the Adani Group was akin to “questioning India”.
“... Hindenburg Research has given reports on 15 other institutions in different countries. But no other country has said that the report was against the country. When we are talking about Adani, it becomes against the country. I am confused. We have started calling India ‘Bharat’ now. What is the next progress? If talking against Adani is talking against India, I really want a clarification,” Ms. Kanimozhi said.
Accusing the Modi government of shielding corporates, Ms. Kanimozhi said that at any mention of Adani, the ruling party vociferously protested. She said the treasury benches were providing support to corporates despite their “wrongdoings” coming to the fore.
“When this report speaks of money laundering... why the Enforcement Department is not initiating proceedings against Adani? Will you initiate proceedings only when Opposition party leaders are involved? The Enforcement Directorate should initiate a probe and the [Adani Group] chairman should be arrested immediately, otherwise justice will not prevail,” Trinamool Congress MP Kalyan Banerjee said.
His party colleague Mohua Moitra asked the government to order a quick and thorough investigation into the matter. The Krishnagar MP said that India was on its way to becoming the third largest economy of the world. “We have world-class Indian companies who can take up his [industrialist Gautam Adani’s] business,” Ms. Moitra said.
The Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Danish Ali accused the government of working only for the benefit of corporates like the Adani Group. He also alleged that the government was threatening the judiciary.
Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Dimple Yadav said that the government was duty-bound to provide a clarification on the Hindenburg report.
Countering the allegations made against the government, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey said the Congress itself had favoured several industrial houses like the Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis.
He said the Adani Group had secured mines in Australia in 2010 when the Congress was in power at the Centre. “Mr. Adani also has good relations with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and [former Kerala Chief Minister] Oomen Chandy,” Mr. Dubey said.
He also asked whether the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had changed concessionaire agreements to help the GMR Group and GVK Group to complete the development of airports in New Delhi and Mumbai.
He further accused the Congress party of letting Warren Anderson, then head of Union Carbide Limited, which was involved in the Bhopal Gas tragedy, flee the country. He said that the relation of Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors scam, with the Gandhi family was “well known”.
Women and Child Development Minister and Amethi MP Smriti Irani attacked the Gandhi family for stalling the development of the constituency for “50 years”. Launching a scathing attack on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Ms. Irani said that a “gentleman” was “shown magic by Amethi” and whose deposit was forfeited in four Assembly constituencies there.
Ms. Irani defeated Mr. Gandhi from the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, which was previously known as a stronghold of the Gandhi family. Picking on the word “magic”, with which Mr. Gandhi had attacked the Prime Minister over the latter’s alleged relations with the Adani Group, the Amethi MP said: “There was a magic there also in 1981. A foundation which is very famous in Amethi, they took a 40 acre land and told the government that they will make a medical college. The rent for the land was a mere ₹623.”
“For 30 years, the people of Amethi were told again and again that a medical college would be opened , but the land has been made into a guest House by the family,” Ms. Irani alleged.
Referring to Mr. Gandhi’s remarks on how, during his Bharat Jodo Yatra, farmers had told him about land being acquired without adequate compensation, she said in Amethi, people were told to come and set up factories, but all of a sudden the land was handed over to a “foundation”. “Farmers go to court against the family. But the family is still in possession of the land,” she claimed. “These are those people who were attacking Modi.”
Shiv Sena MP P. Jadhav said Congress-ruled States like Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh had also awarded projects to the Adani business group.
The Opposition parties also questioned the government over the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Ms. Kanimozhi alleged that the Centre continued to “undermine” the power of the States. “You continue to delegitimise the work we have done... you continue to call us names, but we have set examples. We have proved that we can create models of social justice and inclusive development... which you have miserably failed to do,” she said.