The Congress and some other opposition MPs staged a walkout in the Rajya Sabha on Friday after the Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge was not allowed to speak in the House. Mr. Kharge wanted to raise the issue of portions of his speech expunged by the chair, but Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar pointed out that he could not read the remarks that had already been removed from the record..
Earlier, Leader of the House Piyush Goyal said that Mr. Kharge should first apologise on behalf of the entire Opposition, which had created an uproar during the Prime Minister’s speech in reply to the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference later in the day, Mr. Kharge said, “Expunging my comments on the Adani group will not erase the allegations.” He read out portions of his expunged speech and accused the Narendra Modi-led government of exerting undue pressure on the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament to scuttle the issue.
‘Questions are important’
“Is it a crime to demand a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the Adani group considering the people who have investments in SBI and LIC are deeply worried with the Adani group’s market share dipping alarmingly after the Hindenburg revelations? And constituting a Joint Parliamentary Committee is not out of the ordinary. In the past too, Parliament has taken this route to probe important events and developments,” he said.
“Shouldn’t the falling value of LIC’s money, invested in Adani’s companies, be questioned?” asked Mr. Kharge. “Shouldn’t questions be asked about the ₹82,000 crore loan given to Adani by SBI and other banks? Shouldn’t questions be asked as to why ₹525 crore of LIC and SBI were invested in the Adani FPO despite more than 32% fall in Adani’s shares? Shouldn’t questions be asked as to why the value of LIC and SBI shares fell by more than Rs. 1 lakh crore in the stock market?”
There are many such questions, he said, in the minds of the Indian investors. “Is it wrong to ask whether Modi ji helped secure contracts for Adani in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh while acting as his agent?” he asked.
‘Backed by statistics’
Mr. Kharge added that when speaking about the meteoric increase in Mr. Adani’s wealth, he had backed his comments with statistics. “They objected to this too. I was told to authenticate the information. We get the information from the newspapers, TV and the public, now we are told to authenticate everything,” he said.
What is the reason, he asked, that all regulatory authorities such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and investigating agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax department and the Central Bureau of Investigation seemed to be “paralysed” and not investigating the allegations which are in the public domain.
Alleging double standards
Mr. Kharge added, “The phrase Mauni Baba (silent seer) that I used for Modi ji, has earlier been used by respected former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for Narasimha Rao. If it wasn’t unparliamentary then, how come it has become unparliamentary now?”
What is hilarious, he said, is that out of the nine-line ditty that he quoted, seven lines have been removed. He wondered if even reciting poems was out of bounds now.
Asked whether he blames Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar for trimming his speech, Mr. Kharge said, “I leave it to the country’s judgement. I wouldn’t want to comment.”