PM Narendra Modi stood by friend Gautam Adani, says Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to defend his friend Gautam Adani even though concerns were raised about national security.
Soon after the Prime Minister finished his reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address in the Lok Sabha, Rahul told the media: “The Prime Minister didn’t answer my questions. He was shell-shocked. I didn’t get any answer. I hadn’t asked complicated questions. Very simple questions like how many times you travelled together with him (Adani), how many times he met you later…”
Rahul added: “It reveals the truth. There was no promise of inquiry. If he (Adani) is not a friend, Modi could have said, ok, I will order an inquiry. It is about the defence ministry, shell companies are circulating money. The Prime Minister didn’t say anything about it. It is clear, the Prime Minister is protecting him (Adani). It’s about national security. But I understand why there is no investigation…”
Rahul tweeted later: “Najaanch karaenge na jawabdenge. Pradhan mantri ji basapne ‘mitr’ ka saath denge (He will neither order an inquiry nor answer questions. The Prime Minister will only standby his friend).”
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla expunged the references to the Modi-Adani relationship from Rahul’s speech. Surprised, Rahul asked reporters: “Why were my comments expunged?”
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “With the expunging of Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on PM-linked Adani Maha Mega Scam, democracy was cremated in the Lok Sabha. Om Shanti.”
The practice of expunging words and sentences means little these days because parliamentary proceedings are telecast live and videos remain available on social media.
Rahul’s questions to the Prime Minister about Adani were expunged. However, BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad’s allegations about the Gandhi family being neck-deep in corruption and law minister Kiren Rijiju’s statement that Rahul spoke Pakistan’s language were not.
Outside Parliament, the Congress exercised the freedom of speech to attack and question the Prime Minister.
After Modi’s speech, Ramesh tweeted: “Divert, Defame, Denigrate, Deny. The 4Ds in PM’s own style that describe his so called reply in Parliament. Not a word on the Prime Minister’s links with his favourite businessman Adani, or his ghotalas”.
Ramesh also asked three more questions in the HAHK (Hum Adani Ke Hain Kaun) series:
- In 2006, the UPA government awarded concessions to the GMR and GVK groups to operate Delhi and Mumbai airports, respectively, for a period of 30 years. On November7, 2006, the Supreme Court upheld these privatisations along with the condition that each bidder needed to partner with an experienced airport operator. Even though GMR had emerged as the top bidder in both cases, it was decided not to award both to the firm in the interests of competition. In 2019, rights to operate Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangalore, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram airports were awarded to the Adani Group, with zero prior experience operating airports, for a period of 50 years. On December 10, 2018, a NITI Aayog memo argued that “a bidder lacking sufficient technical capacity” could “jeopardise the project and compromise the quality of services the government is committed to provide”.A government official quoted in an earlier news report (April 22, 2018) had stated that the PMO had “directed” the department of economic affairs in the ministry of finance and the NITI Aayog to prepare model concession agreements for airport privatisations. Why did the PMO and the NITI Aayog chairman who headed the empowered group of secretaries ignore this recommendation and facilitate a clean sweep of six airports by the inexperienced Adani Group?
- On the same day as the NITI Aayog filed its objection, a note from the DEA had strongly recommended that no more than two airports be awarded to a single bidder to reduce risk and to facilitate competition, as was the case with the Delhi and Mumbai airport privatisations. Yet this too was ignored by the ruling dispensation in its rush to help its cronies. Who instructed the empowered group of secretaries to set aside this prior condition, thus clearing the way for the Adani Group to build a virtual monopoly in the sector?
- The Adani Group’s takeover of Mumbai airport should be a case study in crony capitalism. The GVK Group had vigorously contested the Adani Group’s attempts to buy a stake in Mumbai airport in 2019, going to the courts and raising funds to buy out its joint venture partners Bidvest and ACSA. Yet in August 2020, one month following raids by the CBI and ED, GVK felt compelled to sell its most valuable asset to the Adani Group. What happened to the CBI and ED investigations against GVK? How did they miraculously disappear after the sale of Mumbai airport to the Adani Group? Are those cases being used to apply pressure on GVK to defend the very group that forced it to divest India’s second-busiest airport?