Rahul Gandhi attacked the Modi government over the Agnipath scheme and on the Adani Group issue. The Congress leader linked the rise of the business conglomerate and Gautam Adani to the BJP coming to power at the Centre in 2014.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi speaks in the Lok Sabha during Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. (PTI Photo)
By India Today Web Desk: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi used the Adani Group issue and the Agnipath scheme to launch a pincer attack on the government in Parliament on Tuesday. The Adani Group is mired in controversy after allegations of fraud and stock manipulation by US-based short-seller Hindenburg Research. The Gautam Adani-led group has rejected the charges.
Rahul Gandhi also held a photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Gautam Adani on the businessman’s plane to highlight their alleged proximity. His act was criticised by Speaker Om Birla. Rahul Gandhi’s charges also drew a pointed response from the ruling party, with law minister Kiren Rijiju asking for proof of his claims.
Rahul Gandhi also targetted the Centre over the Agniveer scheme, claiming that retired officers have in their mind that the Agniveer Scheme didn’t come from the Army and that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval coerced the scheme on the Army.
Here’s what Rahul Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha today:
1. “From Tamil Nadu, Kerala to Himachal Pradesh, we have been listening to only one name everywhere – ‘Adani’. Across the country, it’s just ‘Adani’, ‘Adani’, ‘Adani’… People wondered how Adani was successful in every business he entered,” he said.
2. “People used to ask us how Adani’s net worth reached $140 billion from just $8 billion between 2014 and 2022,” Rahul Gandhi said, adding, “Adani is now involved in eight to 10 sectors. Everyone is just talking about Adani – from the apples of Kashmir and Himachal to ports, airports and even the roads we are walking on.”
3. The relationship began several years ago when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat. One man stood shoulder to shoulder with Narendra Modi, was loyal to him and helped him construct the idea of a ‘Resurgent Gujarat’. The real magic began when Narendra Modi reached Delhi in 2014,” Gandhi further said.
4. Rules were changed to help Adani, Rahul Gandhi alleged. “There’s a rule that anyone who doesn’t have prior experience in airports can’t be involved in their development. This rule was changed by the Government of India and Adani was given six airports. After that, India’s most profitable airport – the Mumbai Airport – was hijacked from the GVK using agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and given to Adani by the Centre,” he said.
5. Rahul Gandhi also accused the Centre of aiding Adani get defence deals. “Adani has zero experience in the defence sector. Yesterday, PM Modi at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) said that we hurled wrong allegations. But in reality, the HAL’s contract for 126 aircraft went to Anil Ambani. Adani never made drones but HAL and other companies did. Despite that, PM Modi goes to Israel and Adani gets the contract,” he said.
6. Rahul Gandhi claimed that the State Bank of India gave a billion dollar loan to Adani after PM Modi’s visit to Australia. Not just that, Gandhi claimed that right after the PM’s Bangladesh visit, the Bangladesh Power Development Board signed a 25-year contract with Adani.
7. “In 2022, the chairman of Sri Lanka’s electricity board informed the country’s parliamentary committee that he was told by then President Rajpaksa that he was pressured by PM Modi to give the wind power project to Gautam Adani. This isn’t India’s foreign policy. It’s the policy for Adani’s business,” Rahul Gandhi said.
8. “Earlier, PM Modi used to travel in Adani’s aircraft. Now Adani travels in Modiji’s aircraft. This was earlier a matter of Gujarat, then it became a matter of India and now it has gone international. How much money did Adani give to the BJP in the last 20 years through electoral bonds?” the Congress scion asked.
9. Rahul Gandhi also questioned the Agniveer scheme for recruiting defence personnel, claiming that the young men and women aspiring to be in the army were not on the same page as the government on the scheme.
10. Senior officers have said the scheme came from the RSS and the Home Ministry and not from the Army, Gandhi claimed, adding that the officers said the scheme would weaken the army.
(With input from agencies)