Adani Group chairperson Gautam Adani on Saturday said that his company is operating in 22 states and that not all of them are governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, reported India TV.
“I can say with clarity that we do not have any problem with any state government,” he said in a interview during the news channel’s Aap Ki Adalat talk show. “We are working even in Left-ruled Kerala, in Mamata Didi’s West Bengal, in Naveen Patnaik Ji’s Odisha, in Jaganmohan Reddy’s state, even KCR’s [K Chandrashekar Rao] state.”
The Adani Group chairperson has faced criticism from the Congress for being close to the BJP, which the Mallikarjun Kharge-led outfit claims is engaged in crony capitalism.
An investigation by Scroll.in had shown that from 2014 (when the BJP government came to power) to 2019, the Adani Group expanded its operations substantially despite relatively small profits and also at a time when other infrastructure companies were shedding assets.
In the interview, Adani also said that he has not received any personal help from the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He added that he got three breaks in his life of which two happened during the Congress rule.
“First, in 1985 during Rajiv Gandhi’s rule, when Exim [export-import] policy allowed our company to become a global trading house, second, in 1991, when PV Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh opened up the economy, and we entered into public-private partnership mode, and third, during Narendra Modi’s 12-year-long rule in Gujarat,” he told Aap Ki Adalat host and journalist Rajat Sharma.
On the allegations levelled by the Congress about the conglomerate making money as the citizens live a life of hardships, Adani sought proof to substantiate the climes.
“Whatever political narrative one may try to draw, ultimately, tell us, where is the allegation?” he asked. “One is a political statement, and the other is a really genuine allegation. Let the people decide what is the truth.”
The Adani Group founder also told India TV that Rahul Gandhi had praised his investment in Rajasthan. “I know Rahul’s policies are not anti-development,” he added. “We want to make maximum investments in every state.”
Adani’s rise to power
Till 2013, most of the Adani Group’s assets were located in Gujarat. However, by 2019, it had expanded across the country and even diversified into new sectors – wind energy, solar manufacturing, lending, power distribution, and aerospace and defence.
This came at a time when many debt-strapped Indian business groups had to put their infrastructure assets on sale to avoid getting dragged into insolvency proceedings. The companies were hit by decisions like a Supreme Court order in 2014 cancelling the allocation of over 200 coal block allocations to power and steel firms, depriving them of cheap sources of fuel.
However, the Adani Group’s escaped these headwinds that hampered its peers in the infrastructure sector and at the same time bought assets both from them and the government.
This aggressive expansion was also being done even though the conglomerate made relatively small profits. The Adani Group’s six listed companies, which account for almost all of its Rs 77,000 crore turnover, had operating profits of Rs 20,141 crore in 2017-’18. After accounting for interest payments, tax, depreciation and other charges, their combined net profit stood at Rs 3,455.34 crore.
Since Narendra Modi was elected the prime minister in 2014, Gautam Adani’s net worth has increased by about 230% to over $26 billion, reported the Financial Times in 2020.