Former Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik has said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has no defence against allegations that the Centre unfairly favoured the crisis-ridden Adani Group.

In an interview with Youtube channel DB Live released on April 9, the former governor said that only the conglomerate’s head Gautam Adani could hurt the prime minister’s reputation.

Malik was asked to respond to Modi’s claim that a “supari”, or a hit job, had been given to some people to destroy his reputation. “If at all such a supari has been given, it has been given to Adani,” he said. “No one else can defame him [Modi]...but he has no defence on the Adani matter.”

Opposition leaders have accused the prime minister of favouring Gautam Adani, the founder of the Adani Group. Shares of Adani firms have plummeted since January, when United States-based firm Hindenburg Research alleged that the conglomerate used offshore tax havens improperly and manipulated stock prices.

The BJP has denied allegations of favouritism towards the Adani Group. On February 14, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had said that the party has “nothing to hide or be afraid of” in connection with the controversy.

During the interview on April 9, Malik said that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi should have been allowed to speak in Parliament to answer allegations that he defamed India abroad. He described Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla’s act of not allowing the Congress leader to speak as “unprecedented”.

Last month, Gandhi had claimed in London that India was facing an attack on the basic structure of its democracy and that there was a “full-scale assault” on the institutions of the country. He had alleged that microphones of Opposition leaders were muted in Parliament and described the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh as a “fundamentalist” and “fascist” organisation.

His remarks led to an uproar in Parliament, with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders accusing him of defaming India on foreign soil.

Gandhi was disqualified as an MP a day after he was sentenced to two years in jail in a 2019 criminal defamation case by a Surat court on March 23.