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Congress accuses ED of merely 'enforcing directives' from Centre

Gourav Vallabh accuses central agencies of acting like pawns in the hands of government, and asks ED to introspect over its credibility in the popular eye
Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh.
Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh.
File photo

Sanjay K. Jha   |   New Delhi   |   Published 24.06.22, 03:02 AM

The Congress on Thursday publicly reminded the Enforcement Directorate, which had grilled Rahul Gandhi for five days in the National Herald money-laundering case, of its responsibility to probe allegations of corruption or impropriety that involve BJP governments and leaders.

Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh accused the ED of merely “enforcing directives” from the Centre and asked when it would start investigating the allegation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pressured the Sri Lankan government to hand over a wind power project to the Adani group.

“Is Modi the agent of the Adani group? If not, why was he trying to give undue advantage to a private firm?” Vallabh said.

“This is not a Congress allegation. The chairman of the Sri Lankan state-owned Ceylon Electricity Board claimed before a parliamentary panel that the Indian Prime Minister had pressurised Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to award a wind power project to the Adani group.

“This is perhaps the first and only incident in the history of our country that allegations of such nature have been levelled against a Prime Minister. Why did Modi lower India’s pride by acting as a sales agent for a private individual? What was his compulsion? Why are ED and other agencies sleeping on this information?”

Gotabaya had publicly contradicted the CEB chairman, M.M.C. Ferdinando, who later withdrew his statement to the parliamentary panel, apologised and resigned.

Citing another example, Vallabh said: “As soon as the Modi government came to power in 2014, the State Bank of India drafted an in-principle agreement with the Adani group for a $1-billion (Rs 7,819 crore) facility and brought in several banks worldwide to provide funding. After protests, the SBI backed off and scrapped the MoU.

“In 2020, news of another loan of Rs 5,000 crore by the SBI to Adani’s Carmichael coal project in Australia became public. Pressure from investors like Amundi and AXA led to the SBI’s loan getting stuck. This looks like a concerted effort by someone to provide a loan to the Adani group. Does this not warrant the ED’s intervention to investigate the involved individuals or entities?”

Vallabh asserted that the list was endless and reeled off several instances.

“Did the ED interrogate Karnataka minister K.S. Eshwarappa when the Contractors Association chairman held a press conference to allege a 40 per cent commission culture in the state? Did the ED summon the BJP chief minister?” he said.

“Did the ED question the Madhya Pradesh chief minister in the Vyapam (government recruitment and examination) scam? Did the ED investigate drugs seizures in Gujarat? Did the ED ask Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma what the PPE kit scam was all about?

“Did the ED look into the allegations made by governor Satyapal Malik about rampant corruption in Goa?”

Vallabh asked the ED to reveal who had exerted pressure on it to ignore these issues: “Who is mounting the pressure?”

He accused the central agencies of acting like pawns in the hands of the government, and asked the ED to introspect over its credibility in the popular eye.

He said Rahul had been targeted selectively because the BJP wanted to malign him.

The Congress, which has been describing the ED as the “election department” of the BJP, says the National Herald case is baseless and reflects a political vendetta.



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