Oppn parties seek debate, JPC on Adani stock rout; force adjournments in LS, RS

In the Lok Sabha, MPs from almost all opposition parties rushed to the Well of the House raising slogans and sought a probe into the business practices of the corporate giant.

New Delhi: Opposition parties Thursday sought a debate in Parliament and a probe by a joint committee into the fraud-allegation-triggered rout in Adani group company stocks, forcing adjournment of proceedings in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the pre-lunch session.

The Congress, Shiv Sena, the Left, Aam Aadmi Party and other opposition parties tried to raise in both Houses of Parliament the issue of allegations levelled by a US short seller against the Adani group and the subsequent mayhem on company stocks but were disallowed by the chair.

Unhappy with the ruling, they raised slogans, forcing the adjournment of proceedings till 2 pm without transacting any official business.

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The rout in Adani group stocks has threatened the value of investments made by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and public sector banks.

Adani group stocks, where LIC is heavily invested, have lost over USD 100 billion in value since a tiny New York short seller came out with a damning report alleging financial and accounting fraud by the ports-to-energy conglomerate. The Adani group has denied all charges and called the report malicious and full of lies.

In the Lok Sabha, MPs from almost all opposition parties rushed to the Well of the House raising slogans and sought a probe into the business practices of the corporate giant.

Speaker Om Birla asked members not to make unsubstantiated claims and said Question Hour was an important part of Parliamentary proceedings which should not be disrupted.

As the slogan shouting continued, the Speaker adjourned the Lower House proceedings till 2 pm.

Nine MPs, including Leader of the Opposition and Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi and Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, gave notices in the Rajya Sabha under rule 267.

They sought the suspension of regular business to discuss the Adani group stock route and its impact on millions of small investors as well as the hard-earned savings of crores of Indians being endangered in loss of value of investments of LIC.

Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar rejected all the notices, saying they were not in order. This infuriated the opposition MPs who rose in their places to protest.

Dhankhar called for order in the House but the MPs continued to raise their demands, which also included the constitution of a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the entire fiasco.

With the MPs not relenting, he adjourned the proceedings till 2 pm. No business was transacted.

Outside the House, Kharge said the opposition parties want day-to-day reporting of the Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) or the SC-monitored probe into the issue which concerns public money.

“Keeping public interest in mind, we want a thorough probe into the Adani issue either by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or a Supreme Court-monitored panel. There should also be day-to-day reporting of the investigation on the issue,” he told reporters.

Earlier in the day, leaders of several opposition parties met to evolve a joint strategy to take on the government during the Budget Session. At that meeting, they decided to press for a JPC on the issue as well as a discussion in both houses.

Leaders of like-minded parties met in the chamber of Kharge.

Leaders of the Congress, DMK, TMC, SP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, IUML, NC, AAP and the Kerala Congress were present at the meeting.

Thursday is the first full sitting day of the Budget session of Parliament that started on January 31. President Droupadi Murmu delivered her address to the joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on the opening day and the Union Budget for the 2023-24 fiscal starting April 1 was presented on Wednesday.

Adani Group stocks have taken a beating on the bourses after Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations in its report, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation at the Gautam Adani-led group.

The Adani Group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements. It termed the Hindenburg report baseless and threatened to sue the short seller.

LIC has a sizable holding in almost all the 10 listed companies of the Adani Group. The holdings include 9 per cent in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, 3.7 per cent in Adani Transmission, 1.3 per cent in Adani Green Energy and 6 per cent in Adani Total Gas Ltd.

LIC, India’s largest life insurer, invested about Rs 300 crore in buying 9,15,748 more shares as an anchor investor in a Rs 20,000-crore new share sale by Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL).

AEL late on Wednesday cancelled the share sale due to market volatility and decided to return the money to investors.

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