New Delhi: The Congress on Sunday stepped up its attack on the Centre over allegations against the Adani group, alleging that the Modi government’s “loud silence” over the issue “smacks of collusion”.
Adani group stocks have taken a beating on the bourses after US-based activist short-seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation at the Gautam Adani-led group.
In a statement, Congress General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh said that starting Sunday the Congress will pose three questions a day to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue.
He said that amid the allegations against the Adani Group, the Modi government has maintained a “loud silence which smacks of collusion”.
Ramesh said that in a response to the Panama Papers expose on April 4, 2016, the Ministry of Finance had announced that Modi had personally directed a multi-agency investigative group to monitor financial flows to and from offshore tax havens.
“Subsequently, at the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China on 5 September 2016, you (Modi) stated: ‘We need to act to eliminate safe havens for economic offenders, track down and unconditionally extradite money launderers and break down the web of complex international regulations and excessive banking secrecy that hide the corrupt and their deeds’. This leads to some questions that you and your government cannot hide from saying ‘HAHK (Hum Adani Ke Hain Kaun)’,”
Posing questions, Ramesh said Vinod Adani, the brother of Gautam Adani, was named in the Panama Papers and the Pandora Papers as someone who operates offshore entities in the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.
“He is alleged to have engaged in ‘brazen stock manipulation’ and ‘accounting fraud’ via ‘a vast labyrinth of offshore shell entities. You have spoken often about your sincerity and ‘niyat’ (intention) in fighting corruption and even subjected the nation to the heavy costs of demonetization,” Ramesh said.
“What does the fact that a business entity you are well acquainted with faces serious allegations tell us about the quality and sincerity of your investigations? the Congress general secretary said.
Ramesh alleged that over the years, PM Modi “misused” agencies like the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence to “intimidate” his political opponents and to “punish” business houses that do not fall in line with his “cronies’ financial interests”.
What action has been taken, if ever, to investigate the serious allegations made over the years against the Adani Group, he asked?
Ramesh also asked if there was any hope of a fair and impartial investigation in the matter under the prime minister.
“How is it possible that one of India’s largest business groups, one that has been allowed to build monopolies in airports and seaports, could have escaped serious scrutiny for so long despite persistent allegations?” Ramesh said.
Other business groups have been harassed and raided for much less, he alleged.
“Was the Adani Group essential to a dispensation that has profited from ‘anti-corruption’ rhetoric all of these years,” Ramesh asked?
Tagging his statement, the Congress leader tweeted, “The eloquent silence of the PM on the Adani MahaMegaScam has forced us to start a series, HAHK-Hum Adanike Hain Kaun. We will be posing 3 questions to the PM daily beginning today.” He asked the PM to break his “silence” over the issue.
The Congress also started a Twitter poll on its official Twitter handle, asking people whether the PM will get the allegations of fraud against “his friend Adani” investigated.
The Adani group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements.
The 10 listed Adani group firms have faced a combined erosion of over Rs 8.5 lakh crore in just six trading sessions. Adani Enterprises also had to withdraw a Rs 20,000 crore share sale.
In her statement on the issue, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said on Saturday that India’s economic image is not affected due to Adani Group’s recent decision to pull out Rs 20,000 crore FPO amid allegations of financial wrongdoings.
The finance minister said there has been an accretion of USD 8 billion to the forex reserves in the last two days alone.
“…our macroeconomic fundamentals or our economy’s image, none of which has been affected. Yes, FPOs (follow-on public offers) come in, and FIIs (foreign institutional investors) get out,” Sitharaman told reporters here.
The minister said there are “fluctuations” in every market but the accretion over the last few days establishes the fact that the perception of both India and its inherent strengths is intact.