Silence over AdaniGate!

4 Min
Silence over AdaniGate!

Tushar Charan

A regular commentator in a Delhi-based English language ‘national daily’ has declared the on-going Adani saga a ‘farce’. In order to make his obviously contrived comment look fair, he has also clubbed all major controversies of the last 60 years in the category of ‘farce’: The LIC scam of the 1950s which saw the exit of the then finance minister T.T. Krishnamachari, the Bofors bribery allegations of the 1980s and the din over the recent Rafale jet fighter deal with France (and many other such stories), all were dubbed ‘farce’ because they did not prove the charges brought against the government of the day by the Opposition.

For good measure, the commentator (who is the editor of a Hindi paper of the group), reminded his readers of the famous Karl Marx saying that farce when repeated once can be a tragedy but if repeated further it can lead to disaster.

Hidden in this cryptic reminder appears to be a conviction that pursuing the Adani story would result in a ‘disaster’ (?) for the country; the best course therefore will be to forget it. But perhaps not so hidden is a statement—not based on any inquiry–of innocence of both Gautam Adani, the main figure in the story of alleged market manipulations of Himalayan proportions, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accused by the Opposition of being the patron-in-chief of the Ahmedabad based world-ranking billionaire.

It is astounding for a seasoned commentator to proclaim that all the big stories of alleged maleficence by powerful politicians were a ‘farce’ because in the end the charges were not proved. There may be some common threads like the source of origin but the nature of those controversies was not alike.

The LIC scam of the 1950s was about political power being applied on a public sector organization to invest in firms run by a dodgy’ businessman—not proved after a parliamentary probe. The Bofors controversy centred round bribes allegedly paid to the then prime minister via a conduit—proved neither in Indian nor foreign courts. The Rafale jet fighter deal hit the headlines for not only altering the nature of the deal that appeared to undermine the interest of the country but also the choice of an Indian partner (said to be virtually ‘bankrupt’) for the French manufacturer reportedly at the instance of the prime minister.

Admittedly, nothing can be said to have been proved beyond doubt about the allegations hurled at Adani and the patronage allegedly extended to him by Modi. But there is a plethora of evidence that suggests that Adani did benefit immensely from certain policies skewed in his favour. Questions will inevitably be asked if the fortunes of one man, coinciding with the rise of Modi, shoot up to unimaginable levels in a matter of few years.

Adani, unlike the other ‘world class’ billionaires, is perhaps the only one who became the second or third richest man in the world without running much of a manufacturing industry. Also, tax-paying Indians who think that the Income Tax department needlessly harasses them would not be amused to learn that Adani has never—never—figured among the highest 15 tax payers in India.

There are many questions about Adani that have aroused a lot of curiosity among a large section of Indians who have been watching the meteoric rise of Adani but also the ascent of what the Economist has called ‘Silence Raj’ in India even as the ‘Licence Raj’ has not really disappeared.

The queries in people’s minds cannot be dismissed as unwarranted or irrelevant when it is realized that while almost all the big business tycoons in the past maintained fairly good relations with people in power, their upward graph did not shoot up the way Adani’s did.                      

The venerable newspaper commentator did hint at a rather very obvious way that can silence the criticism being fanned against Adani and Modi. Order an inquiry or even appoint a Joint Parliamentary Committee to examine all that has been said about AdaniGate. If the JPCs of the past ended without upholding the allegations against the government, there is every reason to believe that the result from one on Adani would be no different.

 The present ruling dispensation should have absolutely no reason to fear the outcome of a JPC which will surely be heavily composed of ruling party members who will employ their skills to save the government. The only advantage that the Opposition can derive from a JPC is that it will be able to bring on record some uncomfortable questions or even facts that the government would not like to be made public.

In any case, we have it on the authority of no less a person than Narendra Modi that he fears nothing as he is protected against all harm by the shield of 140 crore Indians. 

The ‘mainstream’ media is overcrowded with an army of Modi warriors who arduously—sometimes farcically—fend off criticism of the prime minister. They think it is their dharma to defend Modi and his friends like Adani. They mock and reject the allegations of an unholy alliance between the two. They lambast the critics and the Opposition for not recognizing the role of Adani in building a ‘new’ India.

Private TV channels, viewed as unapologetic and fierce Modi fighters, have been going to extreme lengths of absurdity in defending the two after Modi and the ruling party spoke of a sinister plot hatched by jealous world powers to defame both Modi and India.

Perhaps, those who think that questions about AdaniGate are frivolous and devoid of merit need to offer convincing arguments and a plausible explanation of what many feel is a contradictory and paradoxical situation. If it is true that the prime minister has become ‘Vishwaguru’, how or why do some countries plot ‘conspiracies’ against India?

Simply remaining silent and refusing to acknowledge certain pesky questions will not bury certain controversies, especially when they have been noticed all over the world ###