Parliament adjourned over Adani row; Opposition parties seek JPC or SC-monitored probe

Several Opposition MPs have given suspension of Business notices to the respective Houses of Parliament on the issue. However, both Houses were adjourned soon after the Session began till 2 pm.
Opposition parties leaders addresses the media outside the parliament house in New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo |Express)
Opposition parties leaders addresses the media outside the parliament house in New Delhi on Thursday. (Photo |Express)

NEW DELHI: Doubling down its attack on the Modi government, at least 11 Opposition parties demanded a Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) or a Supreme Court-monitored investigation into the Hindenburg Research report on the Adani Group, which accused the group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud”.

Earlier, both Houses of the Parliament were adjourned until 2 PM after the Congress-led Opposition’s demand for a discussion on the Hindenburg-Adani issue was turned down by the presiding officers.

Thursday is the first full sitting day of the Budget session of Parliament that started on January 31.

Addressing a joint press conference held at Vijay Chowk shortly after the adjournment of both the Houses of Parliament, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge said the opposition parties also demanded that there should be day-to-day reporting of the Joint Parliament Committee (JPC) or the SC-monitored probe into the issue of investment by LIC, public sector banks and financial institutions, in which crores of Indians have put their lifetime savings.

"We want a thorough probe into the Adani issue either by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or a Supreme Court-monitored Committee. There should also be day-to-day reporting of the investigation on the issue," Kharge told reporters.

Kharge also registered his protest over the presiding officer not accepting the notice under Rule 267 of the House for discussion on the issue. 

“This is a crucial issue related to the hard-earned savings of the Indians. I don’t understand why the House rejects notices on serious issues. I had given notice under Rule 267 that the House suspend Zero Hour and relevant rules relating to Question Hour and other businesses of the day to discuss the issue of investment by LIC, Public Sector Banks and financial institutions in companies losing market value, endangering the hard-earned savings of crores of Indians,” he said.

The rout in Adani group stocks has threatened the value of investments made by the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and public sector banks.

Adani group stocks, where LIC is heavily invested, have lost over USD 100 billion in value since the New York short seller Hindenburg Research came out with a damning report alleging financial and accounting fraud by the ports-to-energy conglomerate. The Adani group has denied all charges and called the report malicious and full of lies. 

Before the start of the Parliament session, leaders of several opposition parties including the Congress, DMK, TMC, SP, JD(U), Shiv Sena, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, IUML, NC, AAP, and the Kerala Congress met in the Parliament complex to chalk out a joint strategy to corner the government during the Budget session on the row involving the Adani Group.

Echoing Kharge’s demand, SP Leader Ram Gopal Yadav said that people are losing sleep over their hard-earned savings in LIC and SBI. “When people go to withdraw money from SBI, they are being asked to come later,” he alleged.

Sanjay Singh of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said that the Opposition parties are together in demanding a probe on the Adani expose. “We are all in agreement with Kharge. Why is the Modi government silent after such an expose? Adani is PM Modi s close friend and the BJP runs on his money. Today, LIC and SBI are sinking and Modiji is sleeping. We will continue to raise our voice in the Parliament,” he said.

Voicing similar concerns, DMK MP Kanimozhi said that the party is also seeking a JPC or CJI-led investigation into the matter.

“This money doesn’t belong to any private corporations. We trust LIC and public banks because we believed that the government stood behind them. Today people feel cheated. They don’t know what their future holds for them or their children,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Adani group on Wednesday withdrew its follow-on public offer (FPO) after the rout in the market. Priyanka Chaturvedi of Shiv Sena said that only the Adani Group has benefitted since 2014 after Modi came to power. “ It should be discussed widely why Adani was forced to withdraw its FPO. SEBI should try to revive the trust of the common man,” she said. 

CPI's Benoy Viswam said that the government pumps in money from SBI and LIC when Adani is in trouble. “This government is for Adani. Public money is being looted by corporates,” he said.

LIC has a sizable holding in almost all the 10 listed companies of the Adani Group. The holdings include 9 per cent in Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, 3.7 per cent in Adani Transmission, 1.3 per cent in Adani Green Energy and 6 per cent in Adani Total Gas Ltd.

LIC, India's largest life insurer, invested about Rs 300 crore in buying 9,15,748 more shares as an anchor investor in a Rs 20,000-crore new share sale by Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL).

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