Centre wants to 'hand over' India's food grain logistics to Adani Group, alleges Congress
The Congress alleged on Thursday that the government wants to "hand over" India's food grain logistics to the Adani Group and that such a "conspiracy" was only temporarily foiled by the farmers' agitation that forced the withdrawal of three farm laws.
The Congress has been persistent on its attack on the government weeks after Adani Group stocks took a beating on the bourses after US-based short seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share-price manipulation.
The Gautam Adani-led group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements.
Posing a set of three questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of the party's "Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun" series, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said Thursday's questions related to the "hard work" the Modi government had put into "handing over" India's food grain logistics to the Adani Group.
"A lap of honour around the stadium he got named after himself in his own lifetime is a good occasion for heralding a quarter century of pointed questions with 'Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun'," Ramesh tweeted, referring to the presence of Prime Minister Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese during a Test cricket match between India and Australia in Ahmedabad.
He alleged that the "conspiracy" seems to have been only temporarily foiled by the farmers' agitation of 2020-21 that forced the government to withdraw the "black farm laws".
"The publication 'AdaniWatch' has reported that on October 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of India quashed a June 30, 2021 Gujarat High Court judgement that favoured Adani Ports and SEZ over the government-owned Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC), and said that the High Court judgement 'is not sustainable in law'," Ramesh claimed.
The corporation was set up in 1957 to support India's food storage needs and stored 55 lakh tonnes of food grains in 2021-22, he said.
"The Supreme Court observed that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution had supported the CWC's stand while the Ministry of Commerce and Industry had aided Adani's bid to take control of two major CWC warehouses near Mundra port by not supporting the denotification of the warehouses as part of the Adani SEZ," he claimed, citing the publication.
"The judgement stated that 'it does not augur well for the Union of India to speak in two contradictory voices' and that 'two departments of the Union of India cannot be permitted to take stands which are diagonally opposite'," Ramesh said.
Why did the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, then headed by Nirmala Sitharaman, took a stand opposed to a strategic public-sector corporation and in support of the prime minister's "favourite business group", Ramesh asked.
"Would she have the courage to do so without clear directions from above?" he said.
"This Adani-inspired inter-ministerial conflict was allowed to continue even after Piyush Goyal became Minister of Commerce and Industry (in May 2019) as well as Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (in October 2020). If a minister considered close to corporate interests does not take the initiative to support a public-sector unit that he is responsible for, is it not logical to assume that he is instead supporting the Adani Group to build a strong 'electoral bond' with it?" Ramesh said.
Ramesh alleged that the entire country knows that the motivation behind the "ill-conceived" farm laws was to "hand over" India's agricultural logistics to a few "close corporate cronies" of the prime minister.
"One of the biggest beneficiaries of the farm laws would have been Adani Agri Logistics which has become the major beneficiary of the Food Corporation of India’s silo contracts, the most recent award being one to set up 3.5 lakh metric tonnes of storage in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar," he claimed.
Meanwhile, Adani Farm-Pik was allowed to build a near-monopoly on apple procurement in Himachal Pradesh, he alleged.
Is India's public sector, painstakingly built over the past 70 years, now reduced to being a vehicle for the enrichment of the prime minister's "corporate friends", he asked.
Ramesh urged the prime minister to break his "silence" on the issue.
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