Allegations against Adani group surface recurrently with both Houses discussing the President’s address  

February 07, 2023 11:38 pm | Updated 11:38 pm IST

 Congress MP Rahul Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha at the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on February 7, 2023

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha at the Motion of Thanks on the President’s address during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on February 7, 2023 | Photo Credit: ANI

Notwithstanding a couple of untimely adjournments, both the Houses conducted discussion on the President’s address. With the opposition benches’ demand for a dedicated discussion not being met, they made references of the occurrences in their replies on Tuesday.  

Both Houses commence proceedings again on Wednesday, February 8 th from 11 a.m.

Lok Sabha

Notwithstanding a couple of untimely adjournments, opposition benches decided to take part in parliamentary proceedings following three days of logjam. However, confrontations over alleged objectionable remarks by members did bother proceedings in the Lower House during the early hours on Tuesday.

The House was first adjourned till noon as leaders of opposition parties demanded a discussion on the Adani issue. They urged the speaker to admit notices submitted in the House and sought to know about their demand for a probe into the allegations against the Adani Group. Speaker Om Birla, took up the questions as ruckus ensued, with the House being adjourned till noon. 

Proceedings resumed with the House commencing its discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.

Chaos ensued again following BJP MP C.P. Joshi’s remarks allegedly glorifying the practice of ‘Sati’. The opposition benches objected to the Chittorgarh MP referring to Padmavati, the Queen of Mewar. NCP leader Supriya Sule, DMK MPs Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran and A. Raja alongside Congress MP K Muraleedharan and AIMIM MP Imtiaz Jaleel barged into the Well of the House. 

The Chittorgarh MP defended himself, stating that he had not made any reference to the practice of ‘sati’, but ‘ jauhar’ (self-immolation). With continued protests, the House was briefly adjourned. 

During the debate on Motion of Thanks, several opposition MPs echoed their concerns about the allegations against the Adani Group by North America-based short-seller Hindenburg. 

Congress MP from Wayanad Rahul Gandhi said that while touring the country as part of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, he was asked by people how the Gautam Adani-owned enterprise emerged successful in multiple businesses.  

“People also asked how Adani’s (Gautam Adani) net worth became $140 billion from $8 billion between 2014 and 2022,” the MP remarked. 

He also made references to the Adani Group Chairman’s ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju asked the Congress leader to act with “seriousness” and substantiate his comments with proof.

The House witnessed an uproar when Mr Gandhi held up photos featuring Prime Minister Modi and Mr Adani. 

Trinamool Congress MP from Krishnanagar (West Bengal) stated in her address that the multiples at which “A-Company” grew was “outrageous”. She elaborated “I want to summarise (that) a company who is into infrastructure where you have to win most things by way of tender or have to regulated return cannot have high multiples when it is growing with debt,” she stated, adding, “Most infrastructure companies make a 5-15% return if they are lucky and they get everything right. Once an infra is built, it is usually sold to a pension fund where the infra player keeps a small portion as the operator of the asset. The multiples at which this A-company was trading was outrageous. Even Google, Microsoft and Amazon do not trade at such multiples.” 

She also asked why “Mr A’s” son’s father-in-law was allowed by SEBI to be in the committee for insider trading and corporate governance. Ms Moitra sought a “full, complete and thorough” investigation into all matters stating the country’s reputation and systemic stability was at risk. 

Rajya Sabha

Proceedings in the Upper House commenced on Tuesday by observing silence as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives in the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar apprised the House of the immediate assistance extended by India to help the people in the affected countries.

Despite hopeful indications of a fruitful day early in the morning, members from the opposition benches reiterated their demand for a discussion on the allegations levelled against the Adani Group by short seller Hindenburg and its impact on public sector institutions like LIC and SBI.

Chairman Dhankhar disallowed any suspension of the day’s business to make way for discussion.

The House was adjourned following protests in the early hours to recommence for yet another adjournment. 

The House resumed at 2 p.m. with BJP MP K. Laxman moving the motion of thanks on the President’s address.

Former Union Minister Prakash Javadekar during his address said the country waited 75 years for a tribal to hold the President’s office. He also praised the achievements of the government, noting that India is a “vibrant democracy” under PM Modi, who keeps the “nation first”. 

Taking a dig at the treasury, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh stated in his reply that the ‘Amrit Kaal’ would only benefit the rich. 

Mr. Singh also raised the controversy surrounding the Adani group, demanding that the government investigate the allegations by the Hindenburg report. Mr. Singh said the Centre must “come out with a clear statement” on the Adani row. “Their silence casts aspersions on the crony capitalism of the BJP,” he said.

MP Derek O’Brien too echoed a similar notion.  Responding to the President’s address and the motion of thanks, he pointed to President Droupadi Murmu stating, “long felt urge to be rid of the scourge of mega scams and corruption”, but noted that there have been numerous scams and instances of corruption during the BJP rule at the Centre. 

Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena boycotted the Parliament debate on the motion of thanks on President’s address, claiming the Centre had turned down its demand for a discussion on the Adani issue and a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe in the matter. 

CPI (M) MP John Brittas held a similar assertion, he stated, “For the first time in the history of independent India, the Central government is using patriotism as a shield to help a few businessmen,” the CPI(M) MP said. “Hindenburg revelation is not new, even the Panama papers named an Adani associate,” he alleged. 

Separately he remarked, “Mr. Adani is going to take you (the government) down,”, asking the Centre to “take corrective measures” soon.

Compiled by Saptaparno Ghosh, Vikrant Kumar Jha, Reuben Joe Joseph, Diksha Munjal, Sumeda, and Priyali Prakash

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