Narendra Modi Is Right, Adani-Ambani Should Be an Important Poll Issue

Jahnavi Sen | 08 May 2024
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While falsely accusing the Congress of no longer bringing up these two business moguls, the prime minister failed to answer some burning questions on the duo and their relationship with his administration.

At a campaign rally in Telangana’s Karimnagar on Wednesday (May 8), Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought a new issue into his electoral campaign – a “deal” he alleged that the Congress has made with business tycoons Gautam Adani and MukeshAmbani. These are two businessmen – both from Gujarat – that the Modi administration has been accused of favouring during its tenure, with opposition leaders alleging that the prime minister has “sold the country” to the duo.

“You must have seen how the Congress’s Shahzade [referring to Rahul Gandhi] has spent the last five years repeating the same thing. Ever since their Rafale matter was grounded, they have started praying to a new beat. For five years, it was the same repetition: five businessmen, five businessmen, five businessmen. Then slowly the tune changed, it became Ambani-Adani, Ambani-Adani, Ambani-Adani. But ever since the elections were announced, he has stopped abusing Ambani-Adani. So I am asking him today from Telangana, how much money has he taken from Ambani-Adani? How many sacks of black money has he got from them?” Modi said.

First things first. The premise of Modi’s speech – that the Congress in general and Rahul Gandhi in particular have stopped talking about Adani and Ambani during the elections – is false. On April 24, Congress chief MallikarjunKharge said, “What’s happening in this country is that there are two sellers and two buyers. The sellers are Modi and Shah and buyers are Ambani and Adani.” At an election rally in Coimbatore on April 12, Rahul had said, “Narendra Modi and Adani policies have created two Indias. One India of billionaires and the other India of poor people.” He had also raised the matter of the two billionaires and their growing wealth multiple times during his Bharat Jodo NyayYatra.

But that aside, Modi is right that there are several concerns on Adani and Ambani that the people of India may want taken seriously while they vote for the next government they want. The India Today Mood of the Nation poll released earlier this year found that 52% of people believe that economic policies are being drawn up to help big business.

Here’s a list, in case he wants to bring this issue up – and provide some answers – in his rallies to come.

1. Increase in Ambani-Adani wealth as Indian economy, common people suffer

Both the Adanis and the Ambanis have seen considerable increase in their wealth over the last 10 years – even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the economy was largely at a standstill and millions of Indians were struggling for an income. Ambani is currently Asia’s richest person, followed closely by Adani. Both find their names in the top 15 richest people in the world. Meanwhile, India’s economy on the whole has been plagued by record low household savings, falling real wages and serious unemployment.

2. A slow, lagging probe into Adani’s alleged market manipulation

It has been 15 months since US short-seller Hindenburg Research released its report accusing the Adani Group of stock manipulation and accounting fraud. In India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) was tasked with probing these allegations, and the Modi regime did not agree to the opposition’s demands for a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the matter. After Hindenburg, financial journalists have uncovered further evidence of wrongdoing. Yet, little action has been taken against the group so far, despite SEBI too confirming that there have been irregularities.

3. MahuaMoitra’s parliament expulsion

Trinamool Congress leader MahuaMoitra was summarily expelled from the Lok Sabha in proceedings heavily criticised by opposition parties. It has been suggested that the Modi regime targeted Moitra because of questions she was raising in parliament – specifically those about the Adani Group (read more about them here). These are questions the Modi government is yet to answers.

Rahul Gandhi has also alleged that his disqualification from parliament (he was later reinstated) and the action against him in a defamation case was brought on by his speeches mentioning the Adani Group.

4. Allegations of government favouritism

Why were Adani and Ambani ever brought up in the first place? Because during its years in power, the Modi government has made several decisions that observers have argued were aimed at pleasing vested corporate interests: the controversial (and now repealed) farm laws, airport privatisation, changed mining rules and more.

Jahnavi Sen is Deputy Editor and Executive News Producer at The Wire.

This article was originally published on The Wire.
Views in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect CGS policy.