Saturday, April 20, 2024

‘One Man, One Government, One Business Group’: Congress takes swipe at govt over Adani issue

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The Congress on Saturday attacked the government over the Adani issue, saying the G20 theme is ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ but Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to actually believe in “One Man, One Government, One Business Group”.

Congress has been questioning the financial dealings of billionaire Gautam Adani’s group after US research firm Hindenburg alleged “irregularities” and charged it with stock price manipulation.

The Adani Group has denied all the allegations made in the Hindenburg report and claimed there had been no wrongdoing on its part.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a statement that as the 2023 G20 Summit begins in Delhi, it is worth recalling Modi’s many exhortations at previous meetings of the grouping for the international community to crack down on corruption and money laundering.

At the 2014 Brisbane G20 meeting, the prime minister called for global cooperation “to eliminate safe havens for economic offenders”, to “track down and unconditionally extradite money launderers” and to “break down the web of complex international regulations and excessive banking secrecy that hide the corrupt and their deeds”, the Congress leader said.

At the 2018 Buenos Aires G20 summit, Modi presented a nine-point agenda “for action against fugitive economic offences and asset recovery”, Ramesh said.

“The PM’s brazenness would be laughable if his complicity in high-level corruption and economic offences were not so serious. The PM has not simply facilitated the creation of Modi-made Monopolies (3M) for his close friends, the Adanis, in critical sectors like ports, airports, power and roads using all the tools at his disposal, he has systematically blocked all investigations into Adani’s wrongdoing by agencies as varied as SEBI, CBI, ED, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Serious Fraud Investigation Office,” he charged.

This ensures that “tax havens are safe for his close friends and that they continue to enjoy the protection of excessive banking secrecy and complex international regulations”, he alleged.

The revelation that at least two opaque funds that are alleged to have done round-tripping, money laundering and have violated securities laws are directly connected to Adani is the most recent example of how enfeebled agencies have been made “subservient to the Adanis’ and the PM’s corporate interests”, Ramesh said.

“No less a body than the Supreme Court’s Expert Committee noted in its damning report how SEBI had itself deleted the requirement for overseas funds to report their actual ownership, something that it belatedly tried to undo in June 2023 when it reintroduced reporting requirements, long after the Adani horse had bolted. Would it have done so without pressure from the top,” he asked.

Note that it deleted those requirements long after the departure of UK Sinha, who joined the board of the Adani-owned channel after having previously failed to act on a DRI investigation on Adani, indicative of a broader conspiracy, Ramesh said.

“The PM’s ‘nine-point agenda’ is equally laughable given the ease with which the BJP permitted economic offenders like Nirav Modi, Lalit Modi, Mehul ‘Bhai’ Choksi and Vijay Mallya to flee the country. The government itself has admitted that it has been able to bring back only two of 72 major economic offenders in recent years,” he alleged.

The G20 is intended to be a productive gathering of the major world economies, aimed at dealing with global problems in a cooperative manner, Ramesh noted.

“President Putin may have stayed away, but Prince Potemkin has been in full display with slums being either covered up or demolished, rendering thousands homeless. Stray animals have been cruelly rounded up and mistreated, only to burnish the PM’s image.

The G20 slogan is ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’. However, the PM seems to actually believe in ‘One Man, One Government, One Business Group’,” the Congress general secretary said.

Opposition parties have also been demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Adani issue.

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