Mumbai : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday set the tone for the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) here as he demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the fresh allegations of irregularities in the Adani Group’s use of offshore funds, and questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “uncomfortable silence” claiming that India’s reputation is at stake.
The remarks from the Congress leader came after the OCCRP (Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) report alleged that “opaque” funds were used to funnel substantial investments into the publicly traded stocks of the Adani Group, purportedly masking the involvement of business partners associated with the Adani family.
The Adani Group has rejected the OCCRP report alleging stock manipulation.
Addressing a press conference here ahead of the two-day INDIA bloc meeting, which is being attended by over 60 leaders from 28 parties, Rahul Gandhi said, “There was an investigation… evidence was given to SEBI but it gave a clean chit to (Gautam) Adani. The gentleman who gave clean chit to Adani is today a Director in NDTV. It is very clear that there is something very wrong here.”
“We are trying to show the world that ‘we are a transparent economy’. We are trying to show the world that India has a level-playing field,” he said.
Firing salvos at the Central government, Rahul Gandhi said, “Why is this one gentleman who is close to the Prime Minister allowed to move a billion dollars to pump up his share price, to use that money to capture Indian assets, airports, ports? Why no investigation is taking place?
“Its very important that Prime Minister Narendra Modi clears his name and categorically explains what is going on. At the very least, a JPC should be allowed, a thorough investigation should be conducted.
“I don’t understand why the Prime Minister is not allowing an investigation. Why is he quiet, why doesn’t he say that he is going to make sure that this issue is investigated and the people who are guilty are put behind bars,” the former Congress President said.
He then said that this raises very serious questions on the Prime Minister, just before the arrival of global leaders to India for the G20 meet.
“They are going to be asking questions — What is this special company that is owned by a gentleman close to the Prime Minister? Why an economy like India giving this gentleman a free ride? They are going to ask these questions. I think it is very important that these matters are cleared before they arrive,” he said while showing news reports by two global media outlets.
When asked about the special session of Parliament being called between September 18 and 22, the Congress leader said, “I think it’s a type of panic… the same panic that happened when I spoke in the Parliament. Panic that suddenly made them revoke my membership. So I think its panic because these matters are very close to the Prime Minister. Whenever you touch the Adani matter, the Prime Minister gets very uncomfortable and nervous.”
Referring to the news reports, Rahul Gandhi said, “These are not random newspapers, these are newspapers that affect investment in India. They affect the perception of our country in the rest of the world. They are stating clearly that over a billion dollars went from India, were circulated in different places, and then came back to India. This is — according to them — clearly proved with the documentation they have.
“The first question is, whose money is this? Is it Adani ji’s money or any other person’s? The mastermind behind this is a gentleman called Vinod Adani, who is the brother of Gautam Adani. There are two foreign nationals who are involved in round-tripping of the money. Why are these two foreign nationals being allowed to play with the valuation of one of the companies that controls almost all of Indian infrastructure,” he asked.
Even Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K.C. Venugopal trained his guns at the Prime Minister in a tweet, saying, “Every moment the Prime Minister remains silent on Rahul Gandhi’s questions on Adani, India’s reputation is further tarnished on the world stage.”
He said that during the G20 summit, the world’s attention will be on India and it is deeply embarrassing that the Prime Minister chooses to remain silent and allow the notion that “India is beset with rampant cronyism to set in”.
“The damning revelations by prominent global dailies must be investigated through an impartial forum – the JPC. India’s regulatory bodies, including the SEBI, have been completely captured by Adani. The person who served as SEBI Chairman and ignored the round-tripping of billions of dollars by Adani is designated as a Director on the Adani-owned NDTV’s board,” Venugopal added.