The Congress claimed on Friday that the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has lifted additional surveillance on some Adani Group company stocks and asked why stock exchange regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is standing by and allowing investors to take on added exposure to such stocks.
Congress general secretary, communications Jairam Ramesh posed questions on Twitter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Adani issue as part of the opposition party's "Hum Adanike Hain Kaun" series.
"Another day of adjournment and protest. The PM-linked Adani 'Maha Mega Scam' continues to be the subject of agitation by the Opposition and stonewalling by the Government. Here is HAHK (Hum Adanike Hain Kaun)-31. Chuppi Todiye Pradhan Mantriji," Ramesh said in a tweet.
He claimed that even as global index providers such as MSCI, S&P Dow Jones and FTSE Russell reviewed the position of the Adani stocks in their equity indices, the NSE went the other way and included five Adani Group companies in no less than 14 indices beginning Monday (March 20), as pointed out in the HAHK series on February 20.
This week, Ramesh claimed, the NSE announced that Adani Enterprises, Adani Power and Adani Wilmar would, from Friday (March 17), exit the additional surveillance mechanism framework that was put in place to protect investors from excessive risk.
"Surely the timing is not a coincidence? Why is SEBI standing by as the NSE chooses to protect the Adani Group's interests rather than that of lakhs of small investors? Why is SEBI allowing index investors to take on additional exposure to Adani Group stocks when financial advisors, who generally wealthier investors can afford, have been advising their clients to avoid investing in Adani Group stocks?" the Congress leader asked.
In another poser made by Ramesh, he said almost a month after the revelations of wrongdoing in the Adani Group, the CEO of the Bank of Baroda said the bank would continue to lend money to the business conglomerate led by industrialist Gautam Adani.
"This statement came at a time when the value of Adani collateral in the form of pledged stock had collapsed by more than half, prompting margin calls by big global lenders concerned about repayment and fresh questions about the group's ability to service and repay its huge debt. Note that the Bank of Baroda is a leading public sector bank that is owned by the people of India, not by PM Modi or the CEO.
"Was this yet another case of phone banking by your government? Is it true that the CEO was subsequently asked to clarify his statement by Members of Parliament on 6 March 2023 at a historic south Indian location, and if so, will you share his answer with the people of India?" Ramesh asked.
The Rajya Sabha MP of the Congress also said the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) was set up in 1982 to oversee the state's "minor ports", "but appears to have simply become another instrument for the enrichment of your cronies".
Citing a 2014 Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, he said it had found that Adani Ports had benefitted to the tune of Rs 118.12 crore after the GMB applied incorrect royalty rates to a newly-built quay at the Mundra port.
"More importantly, the CAG found that 'no system to monitor the construction activities at the private ports was in existence and that the MIS did not provide performance-related details on the activities of the ports'. The benefit to Adani Ports, the dominant ports player in the state, of this non-existent monitoring may therefore have been many multiples of the observed Rs 118 crore," he said.
The Congress leader has so far posed 93 questions to the government under the HAHK series.
The opposition party is seeking to corner the BJP-led Centre on the Adani issue ever since US-based short seller Hindenburg Research came up with a research paper alleging financial irregularities and stock manipulation by the business group.
The Adani Group has rejected the allegations and denied any wrongdoing.
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