The Bhartiya Janata Party has “nothing to hide or be afraid of” in connection with the controversy over Adani Group, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said on Tuesday in response to Opposition allegations of favouring the conglomerate.
His remarks came in the wake of a January 24 report by American firm Hindenburg Research, which accused the group of manipulating stocks and improperly using tax havens. The Hindenburg report has plunged the group, led by billionaire Gautam Adani, into crisis, wiping about $120 billion in market value.
On Tuesday, Shah denied allegations of crony capitalism, saying that the Supreme Court has taken cognisance of the matter. “As a minister, if the Supreme Court is seized of the matter it is not right for me to comment,” he said.
In Parliament last week, Gandhi had pointed out that the Gujarat-based conglomerate has seen a meteoric rise in its fortunes since Modi became prime minister in 2014.
Citing examples of the Adani Group signing business deals with countries such as Israel, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the Congress leader alleged that “India’s foreign policy is Adani foreign policy”.
Opposition parties have also been demanding a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the allegations against the Adani Group.
After the report was published last month, Adani Group flagship company Adani Enterprises was forced to call off its Rs 20,000 crore follow-on public offering that was meant to repay debt. Adani himself is no longer Asia’s richest person after he slipped down the global rankings of the wealthy.
Centre misused foreign policy to benefit Adani: Congress
The Congress on Tuesday asked Modi to respond to allegations that he put pressure on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to accept conditions unfavourable to Dhaka in an electricity supply deal. The agreement pertained to the construction of thermal power plants by Adani Power and Reliance Power to supply electricity to Bangladesh.
The Congress alleged that the cost of electricity supplied to Bangladesh from Adani Power’s plant in Jharkhand’s Godda district was much higher than that of thermal power plants of the neighbouring country.
“Does enriching your friends at the expense of neighbouring countries further India’s foreign policy interests?” Congress MP Jairam Ramesh asked.
The Congress general secretary in charge of communications also alleged that in October 2016, an agreement between Adani Power and the Jharkhand government was “abruptly amended” and that under the new terms, Jharkhand would have to pay an additional Rs 7,410 crore over 25 years.
Ramesh also claimed that the Adani Group benefited from the elimination of coal import duties worth Rs 300 crore per year after the government approved its application to set up its power plant in Godda as a Special Economic Zone. He noted that the Union ministry of commerce had initially rejected the application and sought to know what the role of the prime minister’s office was in the subsequent policy change.
Congress moves Supreme Court
Meanwhile, Congress leader Jaya Thakur on Tuesday filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking an investigation against the Adani Group, reported Live Law.
The petition also sought a probe into the role of the Life Insurance Corporation and the State Bank of India in their investments in the Adani Group. It also alleged that Gautam Adani and his associates “swindled lakhs of crores of public money”.
This is the third petition in the Supreme Court in connection with the controversy over the Adani Group. The previous two petitions are filed by Advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vishal Tiwari.
In his plea, Sharma has sought directions to the Securities and Exchange Board of India and the home ministry to conduct an investigation and register a first information report against Hindenburg Research founder Nathan Anderson and his associates in India.
Tiwari, on the other hand, has sought the formation of a committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to investigate the Hindenburg Research report.