Rajat Sharma

Adani: Nothing new in Rahul Gandhi’s allegations

AKB30 After four days of continuous uproar, Parliament on Tuesday started functioning normally with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launching a series of attacks at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Adani issue. Speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President in Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi accused Modi government of going out of its way to help industrialist Gautam Adani. He alleged that Prime Minister Modi helped Adani group in securing contracts in Bangladesh, Australia, Sri Lanka and Israel.

For nearly 45 minutes out of his 51-minute speech, Rahul Gandhi spoke on Adani. He alleged that CBI, ED were used to help Adani secure contracts. The BJP promptly rubbished Rahul’s allegations describing them as baseless and challenged him to substantiate his charges with proof. Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said, Rahul must authenticate each of the allegations that he was making.

During his speech, Rahul Gandhi displayed pictures of Modi and Adani sitting in a private plane. He questioned how Gautam Adani who was at the 609th number in the Forbes List of World’s Richest Persons in 2014 rose to second place within a span of eight years. He asked why Adani group got contracts in most of the sectors, like ports, airports, power transmission, green energy and gas. BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad pointed out that several of the projects were given to Adani group when the UPA was in power. He pointed out how Adani group’s turnover rose from Rs 2 crore to Rs 87,000 crore during the UPA regime.

I had asked most of these questions that Rahul raised, in my interview last month with Gautam Adani in ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ show. At that time, Adani had replied that his business began to prosper since the Nineties when the Congress government under P V Narasimha Rao opened up the economy. Adani had then said that he does not consider Rahul’s allegations more than ‘political statements’.

On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi alleged that rules were changed to help Adani group secure six airports in India, even though the group had no previous experience in managing airports. In ‘Aap Ki Adalat’, I had questioned Adani about this. He had said that his group got all the contracts through proper bidding process.

Adani group may have faced turmoil in stock markets, but the fact remains that all his projects and assets remain intact.

Secondly, Rahul’s allegation that it was Modi who helped Adani is incorrect. People who know the style of working of Narendra Modi will tell you, Modi never goes out of his way to help any businessman, whosoever he may be. The picture displayed by Rahul Gandhi was when Modi was chief minister of Gujarat and he had used Adani’s plane several times. On its part, BJP also circulated pictures of Adani with Rahul’s brother-in-law businessman Robert Vadra, and also with Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot.

I agree Rahul Gandhi has the democratic right to make political statements, but in matters of foreign affairs, he must be careful with his choice of words. Rahul alleged that Modi took Adani with him in his plane when he visited foreign countries and helped his group in securing contracts. The fact is that Adani did not start his offshore business after 2014. He got his first foreign contract in 2008 in Indonesia, got his first mine in Australia in 2010, and a port in Australia in 2011. At that time Dr Manmohan Singh was the prime minister.

Rahul Gandhi has alleged that public sector banks and LIC helped Adani group by investing in his shares and gave him loans. He said, SBI gave Rs 27,000 crore loans to Adani group, while LIC invested Rs 36,000 crore. After the Hindenburg research report came to light, both SBI and LIC have clarified that their exposure in Adani group amounted to hardly less than one percent of their total investments. In ‘Aap Ki Adalat’, I had asked Adani about this. He said, his group has already started reducing its dependence on Indian banks.

There is nothing new in Rahul Gandhi’s allegations, and Gautam Adani has replied to almost all of them in my ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ show. Rahul’s questions are the same and Adani’s replies are the same. The government knew what allegations Rahul would make, and the ministers and BJP leaders were ready with their point-to-point replies soon after Rahul’s speech was over.

On Rahul’s allegation that six airports were given to Adani group despite having no prior experience, the government replied that Airport Authority of India had removed the experience related condition, because there was assumption that some companies who had experience, could form a cartel and make arbitrary biddings.

I asked the same question in Aap Ki Adalat show last month, and Gautam Adani had replied that he knew there could be political dispute once the airport contracts were secured. That is why, he said, his group had clearly decided that all contracts will be secured only after going through the bidding process.

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