New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday led the Opposition attack in the Lok Sabha against the government over the Adani-Hindenburg issue as he tried to link Gautam Adani's meteoric rise with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ascendance to power at the Centre.
"The real magic starts when the PM comes to Delhi, and the real magic begins in 2014. In 2014, he (Adani) was in 609th spot on the list of richest people and climbed to the second spot," Gandhi said during a Lok Sabha debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address.
Gandhi was the first speaker from the Opposition to speak on the motion. He also displayed two photographs of Modi, one in which he is seen inside a plane with Adani and the other in which he is getting out of a plane with an Adani logo on it, to emphasise their alleged proximity.
Speaker Om Birla disapproved of Gandhi's action. He said: "Showing posters in the House isn't appropriate. If you will show posters then this side (BJP) will show posters of Rajasthan's CM (with Adani)."
Continuing with his allegations, Gandhi said that Modi helped Adani bag overseas contracts in various sectors.
"Earlier, Modi used to travel in Adani's aircraft; now Adani travels in Modiji's aircraft. This matter was earlier of Gujarat, then became of India and now has become international. How much money did Adani give to the BJP in the last 20 years and through electoral bonds," he asked.
" Modi goes to Australia, and by magic, SBI gives a $1 billion loan to Adani. Then he goes to Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Power Development Board signs a 25-year contract with Adani," said Gandhi.
In June 2022, the chairman of Sri Lanka's Ceylon Electricity Board informed a parliamentary hearing that President Rajapaksa told him that Modi "pressured" him to give the wind power contract to Adani, Gandhi alleged.
"Adani never made drones, while HAL used to do it and other companies do it. The PM goes to Israel and Adani gets the contract... They have four defence firms and had not done this work before; small arms and sniper rifles are all made by Adani," he said.
He alleged that be it maintenance of aircraft, small arms or drones, the whole India-Israel defence tie has been handed over to Adani.
"There should be a case study by business schools such as Harvard on the relationship between business and politics, India is a case study... The PM should get a gold medal in this," Gandhi said.
He alleged that the government tweaked rules in favour of Adani and said that the clause that no one without any prior experience will be involved in the development of airports was done away with. "This rule was changed by the government and Adani was given six airports. After that India's most strategic and profitable airport Mumbai Airport was taken away from GVK using agencies like the CBI, ED and was given to Adani by the Government of India," he alleged.
Gandhi said that during his 4,000 km Bharat Jodo Yatra, people asked him how Adani got into so many businesses and succeeded and what the nature of his relationship with the Prime Minister was.
During the yatra, he said, people asked him how Adani's net worth grew from $ 8 billion to $ 140 billion between 2014 and 2022.
"From Tamil Nadu to Kerala to Himachal Pradesh, we have been hearing one name everywhere -- Adani. Across the entire country, it's just Adani, Adani, Adani...," Gandhi said.
"I was asked by the people during the yatra as to why LIC's money is being put into the Adani Group. They also asked Adani's shares which are volatile, why LIC's funds are being put in it. I want to say, how do the government and the PM help Adani -- thousands of crores of (money from) public sector banks are given to Adani," he said.
"The (Adani-Modi) relationship began many years ago when the PM was Gujarat's CM. When most of India was asking questions of the Prime Minister, and was against the PM (then CM), one man stood shoulder to shoulder with Mr Modi, he was loyal to the Prime Minister and helped Mr Modi construct the idea of a resurgent Gujarat," Gandhi said.
Adani was the driving force behind the formation of a group of businessmen in Gujarat. He went on to say that the result was a massive expansion of Adani's businesses in Gujarat.
Gandhi also questioned the Agniveer scheme for recruiting defence personnel, claiming that youths aspiring to be in the Army were not on the same page as the government on the scheme. He said that senior officers have said the scheme will weaken the Army.
After Gandhi's attack on the PM, the BJP accused the Congress leader of making "baseless, shameless and reckless" allegations against the PM and said the Congress itself was involved in "big scams" that "tarnished" the image of the country.
Referring to the National Herald and AgustaWestland scam cases, senior BJP leader and Patna Sahib MP Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "It's time to revive the memory of Mr Gandhi on corruption," while alleging that the Congress leader, his mother Sonia Gandhi and her brother-in-law Robert Vadra "are on bail".
The former Union minister said the Congress party is "based on the twin pillars of corruption and protecting the corrupt". "Corruption and giving protection to the corrupt have been the histories of Mr Gandhi and his family," Prasad said....