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Mamata corners Centre on Adani FPO fiasco

FM’s budget on Wednesday had seen the bellwether Sensex leap as much as 1,200 points in an initial burst of euphoria over tax breaks
Mamata Banerjee addresses a gathering in Burdwan on Thursday
Mamata Banerjee addresses a gathering in Burdwan on Thursday
Picture by Munshi Muklesur Rahaman

Meghdeep Bhattacharyya   |   Calcutta   |   Published 03.02.23, 04:52 AM

Mamata Banerjee on Thursday appeared to mock the Narendra Modi government over the fiasco that led to the Adani group scrapping the Rs 20,000-crore follow-on public offer (FPO) for the flagship Adani Enterprises and suggested that calls had gone out of the highest echelons of power to industrialists for the share subscription. 

“Yesterday (Wednesday), it seemed like the central government was on the verge of a collapse. Why was it on the verge of collapse? Because the share market saw a mega landslide,” said the Bengal chief minister.


Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget on Wednesday had seen the bellwether Sensex leap as much as 1,200 points in an initial burst of euphoria over tax breaks, savings incentives to senior citizens, big capital spending by the Centre and an attempt to tamp down the fiscal deficit to 5.9 per cent of GDP. But all those gains dissolved in what has been ominously termed the Adani effect.

The Sensex swung like a pendulum in a 1,956-point range between its highest and lowest points, showing some recovery towards the close, and finished with modest gains of 158 points.

“I do not wish to take any names here... but can the country function without any planning?” asked the Trinamul Congress chairperson on Thursday. 

Sources in her party said she was likely to keep milking the issue for political mileage in the near future, thereby rubbing salt into the saffron ecosystem’s wounds.

The issue rocked the Parliament on Thursday and Mamata’s party was conspicuously part of the Opposition’s manoeuvres to corner the Centre.

“The Centre had to ask sixeight people, calls went out… to bail them out,” Mamata said at a state government event in Burdwan in the afternoon.

She was referring to the buzz in the corridors of power that frantic calls had gone out from the highest offices in New Delhi to moneybags in Mumbai on Tuesday, urging their intervention to ensure that the FPO sailed through the test of the markets. 

“Some were asked to give thousands of crores... I know but won’t reveal names because I don’t want to make their lives more difficult. Is this how a government ought to run?” asked the chief minister.

Although the FPO finally scraped through, the Adani Enterprises board on Wednesday night decided not to go ahead with it. 

Mamata once again tore into the Centre over the Union budget itself. 

“Yesterday, the Centre presented a budget, where not a single word was mentioned on the burning issue of unemployment in India. When elections are around the corner, the Centre promises to give two crore jobs. But once elections get over, they forfeit jobs of four crore people as all industries have been shut,” she said, going on to demand answers on funds for the MGNREGA, food subsidy, housing for the poor, and fuel prices.

The chief minister sought to explain how there were no relaxations, contrary to the BJP’s claims, in personal Income Tax.

“After the budget was announced, central ministers went around claiming that income tax slabs had been increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh. They have spun a web of lies,” said Mamata.

She said according to the new rules, the relief under Section 80C (by way of investments in the LIC, public provident fund, equity-linked insurance plans and mutual funds) was of up to Rs 1.5 lakh, but was now taxable.

“Similarly, in medical insurance, under Section 80D, one got relief of up to Rs 50,000. But now you won’t get any relief. Same case with the National Pension Scheme, where one could get relief of Rs 50,000 under Section 80CCD…. So, the Centre has increased slabs on one hand, and on the other hand, they have removed relief from elsewhere,” said the chief minister.

“They have increased slabs by Rs 2 lakh, and reduced relief for Rs 2.5 lakh,” she added. “If this government continues, banks will be shut down in the near future. They will remove life insurance. The way in which LIC shares are being misused, it is criminal.”

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