New Delhi: The Congress Wednesday concluded its ‘Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun’ protest campaign series with its 100th question to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — whether the SEBI, ED, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and CBI will take action against the Adani Group.
“Opaque offshore entities such as Monterosa Group, Elara India Opportunities Fund, Cresta Fund etc. appear guilty of ‘stock parking’, in which a third party holds shares to conceal the actual owner’s ownership or control before regulators. Will SEBI act?” the party asked in a statement.
“You have also effectively used it (ED) to enrich your cronies e.g. using ED raids to ‘encourage’ the previous owner of Mumbai airport to sell it to the Adanis. However we pray that you will also use the ED as originally intended and investigate the Adani Group’s alleged money-laundering and round-tripping,” it added.
It also made a similar allegation about the CBI and its operations.
Almost every day since 5 February, the Congress has, as part of its ‘Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun’ protest series, been posing three questions to the PM on his “relationship” with Gautam Adani and alleged preferential treatment given to the businessman’s conglomerate.
Talking about the corporate affairs ministry, the party said Wednesday that the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) — a statutory agency under the ministry’s jurisdiction — was set up to investigate white-collar crimes.
It’s statement further read that in 2012, the SFIO had filed a chargesheet accusing the Adani Group and Ketan Parekh — a stock broker convicted in 2008 for manipulating the markets — of “making fraudulent gains of Rs 549 crore by manipulating Adani Exports shares”, and had “lodged cases of cheating and criminal conspiracy against Gautam and Rajesh Adani”.
“Yet it went into a slumber after you became PM, waking up a month after the Hindenburg revelations, prompting the Bombay High Court to ask on 22 February 2023 whether the SFIO had sought a hearing because of the ‘scenario outside’! Will the SFIO act sincerely and not just for optics?” the Congress asked.
At the press conference marking the conclusion of the protest series, Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh, who’s been leading the campaign, said that the party would continue to demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Adani issue.
“In 1961, a hit film called Jab Pyaar Kisi Se Hota Hota Hai with Dev Anand and Asha Parekh was made. The film had a hit song, ‘Sau saal pehle, mujhe tumse pyaar tha. Aaj bhi hai, aur kal bhi rahega’. Today I’m reminded of that song. ‘Sau sawaal pehle, JPC ki maang thi. Aaj bhi hai, aur kal bhi rahegi,” he said.
Ramesh further said that the demand of the party will stand, irrespective of the argument that such a JPC — if formed — will have more members from the ruling BJP dispensation.
Also Read: Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun, Episode 8: Congress asks govt if Ketan Parekh still has links with Adani
‘JPC would have BJP majority, but govt will have to respond’
At the press conference, Ramesh emphasised that his party’s questions are not directed to Adani, but to Modi.
“The SC constituted expert committee is centered around Adani and will ask them questions. But we are asking questions of the government. Our questions cannot be asked by an SC committee. They will not think about these questions or have the courage to ask them,” he added.
The JPC “will have a BJP majority”, but in spite of that, the opposition will have an opportunity to ask questions, the Rajya Sabha MP said, adding that the government “will have to respond and everything will go on record”.
Besides Ramesh, Congress leader Amitabh Dubey, in-charge of research and monitoring in the party’s communications department, also addressed the press conference. Ramesh said that Dubey was instrumental in the campaign and was involved in framing and publishing the questions over the last one and a half months. Amitabh is the son of Suman Dubey, known to have been a close associate and family friend of Rajiv Gandhi.
According to party sources, the quirky taglines that were part of the campaign, like ‘Dikh raha hai Vinod’, a reference to Gautam Adani’s brother, were coined by Dubey. The ‘DDLJ’ (Deny, Distract, Lie and Justify) dig that Congress recently took at the government’s handling of the China issue. The name of the protest series, however, was Ramesh’s brainchild.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)
Also Read: Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun, Day 5, Congress focuses on SEBI, ‘was it pressured to go slow?’