New Delhi: Amid the ongoing Opposition demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Adani Group issue, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday stepped up the attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of going out of the way to favour the industrial house led by billionaire Gautam Adani.
Taking part in the discussion in Lok Sabha over the ‘Motion of Thanks’ to the President’s address to the joint session of Parliament on the commencement of the Budget Session, the Congress parliamentarian from Wayanad asked the PM to clarify his relationship with Adani.
In his 50-minute-long speech, the former Congress president lambasted the ruling dispensation for allegedly promoting the Adani group in key sectors like airport, ports, cement and power, and said that the group was bankrolled by the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) generously.
“What is Adani ji’s relation with the PM? How has he become so successful? ,” Rahul asked amid interruptions from the treasury benches.
He alleged that the relationship dates back to the period when Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
“When Modi was Gujarat CM, one man stood shoulder-to-shoulder with him. Adani was loyal to him. The result of that was the tremendous expansion of his business in Gujarat,” the MP said. He added, “The real magic began when PM Modi reached Delhi in 2014 (after BJP rode to power). In 2014, Adani was number 609 on the list of the rich. But, within a few years, he is number two.”
Referring to his recently concluded ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Rahul said, “From Kerala to Kashmir, everywhere I had heard only one name- Adani…Adani…Adani…They used to ask me two to three questions. Adani, if he enters into any business, achieves success and never fails. They asked what was happening. Earlier, he used to do one or two businesses. Now, he is working in 8 to 10 sectors including airports, solar, cement and power. “
He further alleged that rules were changed to favour Adani and the latter got six airports including Mumbai, to which senior MPs of the ruling BJP challenged the Congress member to authenticate his claims.
“If you are levelling allegations you have to give proof,” Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said. In response, Rahul said, “I will ”.
Senior BJP MP Ravi Shankar Prasad termed the allegations of Rahul “baseless”`.
The Congress MP also posed a volley of questions to the PM over Adani.
“PM Narendra Modi ji, how many times did you travel together with Adani ji? How many times did Adani ji join you later on a visit? How many times did Adani ji travel to a country after you immediately did? In how many of these did Adani ji get a contract after you had visited? How much money did Adani ji give to BJP in electoral bonds?” he asked.
In an apparent reference to PM’s swipe at Congress over the ‘Rafale deal’, the MP said, “Yesterday, the PM had said false allegations were levelled (against his government). But the reality is that HAL’s contract of 126 aircraft was given to Anil Ambani.”
Attacking the government over the new recruitment scheme in the armed forces, ‘Agniveer”, Rahul said, “You have said the Agniveer scheme will benefit the youth. But the youth of the country do not agree on the same and have a different view.”
“Ajit Doval ne army pe thopa hein (Ajit Doval has imposed on the army) ,” Rahul said referring to the scheme, amid objections by the ruling members on taking the name of individuals who are not in the House to defend themselves.
The Lok Sabha transacted its business on Tuesday after three days of logjam over the Adani issue. The Opposition was asking for immediate discussion over the Hindenburg Research report on Adani Group and its fallout on India’s financial sector, while the government side was insisting that the ‘Motion of Thanks’ should be taken first as per the custom and other issues can be taken according to the Rules of the House.
Earlier in the day, when the House assembled, the Opposition members raised the Adani issue. Amid the din the Speaker Om Birla had adjourned the House till 1200 hours.
When the House assembled at 1200 hours, the BRS members stood up from their seats and started demanding discussion on the same. The Speaker continued with the document laying process and asked the members to maintain the order in the House following which the BRS members walked out.