The Congress on Saturday alleged that the central investigative agencies, which are recklessly used to target Opposition leaders and wreck political parties, are also being used to augment businesses of crony capitalists, particularly the Adani group.
Giving the “chronology” of the takeover of Sanghi Industries by the Adani-owned Ambuja Cements, Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh said: “28 April 2023: India’s third-largest cement producer Shree Cement is reported to be
in talks to acquire Sanghi Industries. 21 June 2023: Income Tax Department launches raids against Shree Cement at five locations. 19 July 2023: Shree Cement exits race to acquire Sanghi Industries. 3 August 2023: Adani-owned Ambuja Cements announces it has acquired Sanghi Industries.”
Sanghi’s unit in Sanghipuram, Gujarat, is India’s largest single-location cement and clinker plant.
Ramesh said: “The associated Sanghipuram Port will also further facilitate Adani’s ports monopoly. Given its importance for his close friends, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has left no stone unturned to ensure control of these assets by the Adani Group.”
Ramesh added: “What we are seeing is part of a longstanding pattern of misuse of investigative agencies to enrich the Prime Minister’s cronies.”
Asking the people to understand the game, Ramesh said: “Agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and CBI are not only being used to break apart Opposition parties and bring down Opposition-ruled governments, with 95% of investigations aimed against Opposition leaders. Prized assets like Mumbai airport, Krishnapatnam Port and, now, Sanghi Industries are being handed over to the Adani Group following raids by these agencies.”
In the takeover of the Mumbai airport by the Adani group, the Congress said central agencies played a role. The GVK Group however issued a statement rebutting the charge. Ramesh said: “We have every expectation that, as in previous cases, the promoters (of Shree Group) will be pressurised to deny that the raids affected their decision to withdraw from bidding. However, the truth cannot be hidden: Prime Minister Modi is overseeing an unprecedented amassing of wealth in the hands of his close cronies even as inequality in India reaches historic highs and Indian citizens are crushed by record price rise and joblessness.”
The Congress leader also recalled that research by former RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya had shown that the rise of Modi-made monopolies was exacerbating price rise, as monopolies are able to charge consumers higher and higher prices.
Stressing the misuse of agencies, Ramesh said: “In our Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun (HAHK) series of 100 questions for Modi, the Congress party had pointed out how the Adani Group has repeatedly profited from well-timed, Modi-made raids by investigative agencies on its business competitors. In sectors ranging from airports, ports and, recently, cement, companies competing with Adani for prized assets have faced CBI, ED and Income Tax raids that have dissuaded them from proceeding with their bids, and the assets have ultimately gone to Adani. This is a classic case of state capture by the PM’s favourite businessman — theft on a national scale that is encouraged and facilitated from the very top.”