Arrested AAP Ministers Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain Quit Delhi Cabinet
NEW DELHI, Feb 28: Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, arrested Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ministers, quit the Delhi cabinet today. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accepted their resignations and reassigned their ministries.
The resignations were not an acceptance of guilt in any way, AAP asserted, describing it as an "administrative step". No new ministers will join the cabinet, party sources said, at least till the Delhi Budget next month.
Manish Sisodia's departments were assigned to ministers Kailash Gahlot and Raj Kumar Anand.
Manish Sisodia was arrested on Sunday over allegations of corruption in the Delhi liquor policy case. Before his arrest, he predicted that he would be in jail for "7-8 months".
"I am stepping away till the charges against me are proven false," Mr Sisodia wrote in his resignation letter, sent shortly after the Supreme Court refused to entertain his petition challenging his arrest and urged him to approach a lower court first.
"There are likely to be more cases against me... God knows these allegations are false."
The Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi had been in charge of 18 ministries, including the health portfolio of Satyendar Jain, who has been in jail for 10 months. Mr Sisodia said he had served Delhi for eight years "with full dedication".
The resignations came soon after the BJP questioned why the arrested ministers were still in the Delhi government.
There are now five ministers in the Delhi cabinet, including Kejriwal, who has not taken any ministry, preferring instead to pursue AAP's national plans.
Sisodia, widely seen to be Kejriwal's number two in the party and the government, had taken charge of a bulk of the ministries, leaving the AAP chief free to focus on the party's campaign across the country.
When Satyendar Jain was arrested in May over allegations of money laundering, Kejriwal simply transferred his departments to Sisodia. Jain held on to his job despite being in jail.
But AAP sources said with Sisodia's arrest the Delhi government has a vacuum in key portfolios like finance, health and education.
Kejriwal may be forced to cut back on his trips to other states and take charge of some ministries. It is a huge setback for AAP as it preps for the 2024 national election. The Chief Minister had reportedly planned to visit states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where elections will be held later this year.
As for Delhi, it will need a Finance Minister to present the budget.
CBI Gets 5-Day Custody Of Delhi Dy CM Manish Sisodia In Liquor Policy Case
NEW DELHI, Feb 27: Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia will be in CBI custody till March 4 for questioning, a Delhi court has ordered. Sisodia was arrested yesterday in connection with alleged corruption in the now-withdrawn liquor policy of Delhi.
The agency told a Delhi court that Manish Sisodia has been giving evasive replies to their questions and failed to explain at least six contentious provisions in the liquor policy that were not part of the first draft. The agency contends that the changes were made at the behest of a liquor lobby in exchange for kickbacks to the tune of ₹ 30 crore.
A draft note was recovered from the computer of Sisodia, which shows that the profit margin clause for was changed from 5 per cent to 12 per cent. Investigation revealed that Sisodia gave the draft note to the excise commissioner after removing the opinion of the legal expert from it, the agency has alleged.
Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan, who represented Sisodia, questioned if the inability to answer the CBI's questions can be a ground for remand. "Their case is that I did not confess. They expect me to answer the way they want. There cannot be self-incrimination," he said.
He has also argued that the liquor policy was signed off by the Lieutenant Governor in May 2021. "What the CBI is trying to hide here is… LG gave suggestions and even those suggestions were also accepted and included before implementation," the advocate said.
Aam Aadmi Party workers and supporters, meanwhile, hit the streets in Delhi, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Bhopal, and other cities to protest against Sisodia's arrest. In a tweet, AAP alleged that "PM Modi's Police forcibly enter the AAP office to arrest AAP volunteers" and called it an "Emergency-like situation".
Chaotic scenes were witnessed near the BJP headquarters in New Delhi as police detained several of the protesters. As AAP protestors tried to march towards the BJP office in Delhi, the police blocked their way. Several protesters who tried to climb the barricades were detained. Visuals from the spot showed the police personnel shoving AAP workers into 10-15 buses.
Manish Sisodia faces corruption allegations in bringing a new liquor sale policy in the national capital. The CBI contends that liquor companies had involved in drafting parts of the 2021 policy, for which kickbacks were paid by a liquor lobby
it dubbed the "South Group".
The Central Bureau of Investigation arrested Sisodia yesterday after questioning him for eight hours. Sisodia spent the night at the CBI headquarters of the in Delhi. A team of doctors from AIIMS conducted a medical examination of the AAP leader at the CBI headquarters due to security reasons.
"I am told that most CBI officers were against Manish's arrest. All of them have huge respect for him and there is no evidence against him. But the political pressure to arrest him was so high that they had to obey their political masters," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this morning.
Almost all opposition parties except the Congress have slammed the arrest of Sisodia. The Delhi unit of the Congress, which is in direct competition with the Aam Aadmi Party, has supported the arrest and said Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should be arrested next as he is the "mastermind" of the alleged liquor scam.
Pawan Khera deplaned; arrested; granted bail by Supreme Court
NEW DELHI, Feb 23: Hours after his dramatic removal from a flight and arrest at the Delhi airport today, Congress leader Pawan Khera was released on bail in a case involving his alleged insult to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I was asked to deplane as if I was a terrorist. It can happen to anyone tomorrow," Pawan Khera said after being freed from police lock-up.
Nearly 50 Congress leaders launched a rare protest on the Delhi airport tarmac this morning after Mr Khera was asked to get off a flight to Raipur. Khera was heading to the Chhattisgarh capital for a two-day Congress meeting.
A police team came all the way from BJP-ruled Assam to arrest Khera, armed with an FIR that accused him of remarks "made intentionally" to provoke BJP workers, "causing breach of public peace, with intent to incite violence and disturb peace and tranquility in the society."
Granting Khera reprieve, Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said: "There has to be some level of discourse, we are protecting you." The Supreme Court agreed to the Congress's request to club cases registered against Khera in Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
At a recent press conference, Khera flubbed PM Modi's name while demanding a parliamentary inquiry into the Adani-Hindenburg row. "If Narasimha Rao could form a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee), if Atal Bihari Vajpayee could form a JPC, then what problem does Narendra Gautam Das...sorry Damodardas...Modi have?" the Congress spokesperson had said.
The FIR said the remarks were "not just insulting, defamatory and derogatory to PM Modi and his deceased father".
The Congress, which approached the Supreme Court, argued that it was a "slip of tongue" and that Khera had apologised.
"I for one don't believe in crossing boundaries. But if you have crossed boundaries, this can't be the reaction. It was unfortunate. He did a play on words which he shouldn't have as per me. He said it was a mistake - 'I genuinely got confused whether it is Damodardas or Gautamdas'," said lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
The judges were repeatedly shown Khera's video. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud asked at one point how it was a case of "religious disharmony".
The BJP, which rules Assam, says Khera's fumble was deliberate. "Our lordships may see the facial expressions and the laughs all around. This is the PM of the country," said Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati.
Assam has emerged as the favoured destination for FIRs linked to anti-BJP criticism. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had posted a strong tweet after Khera first made the comments.
The Congress said the BJP is acting out of fear and wants to block the party's plenary session because of the "successful Bharat Jodo Yatra of Rahul Gandhi". Last week, the Enforcement Directorate carried out searches on Congress MLAs in Chhattisgarh over allegations of money-laundering.
"Today the situation in the country is worse than the Emergency. There is an emergency-like situation in the country without declaring it. His arrest has defamed our country all over the world. Nothing can be more unfortunate than this, that is why we say democracy is in danger and the Constitution is being torn to shreds. The public will destroy their pride," said Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
'Goons Have Lost': AAP's Dig At BJP As Shelly Oberoi Elected Delhi Mayor
NEW DELHI, Feb 22: The Aam Aadmi Party's Shelly Oberoi was elected Delhi's new mayor, defeating BJP's Rekha Gupta by 34 votes after a bitterly fought election that had to be called off three times, officials announced on Wednesday.
Shelly Oberoi received 150 votes while Rekha Gupta 116 out of the total 266 polled in the election held after a decisive victory for AAP in the Supreme Court.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia congratulated Ms Oberoi and the party workers. "The goons have lost, the public won. Today in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the people of Delhi won and hooliganism was defeated," Kejriwal said.
Since the civic elections in December, which the AAP won, the mayoral elections were postponed thrice amid a prolonged tussle between the AAP and the BJP.
Ms Oberoi had approached the top court, challenging the BJP's contention that the aldermen - 10 members nominated by the capital's Lieutenant Governor, a representative of the BJP-led government at the centre - are allowed to vote in the election.
Judges led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said nominated members cannot vote in the election. "Nominated members cannot go for election. The constitutional provision is very clear," the court observed.
After the election of the mayor, AAP's Aaley Mohammad Iqbal was elected Deputy Mayor. Next, six members of the Standing Committee will be elected. In the election for the Standing Committee, AAP is likely to win three seats and the BJP two. The fight is over the sixth seat.
If the alderman were allowed to vote, the strength of the BJP would have gone up to 123 from 113. AAP has 150 votes in the 274-member house, where the majority mark stands at 138.
So, while it would not have affected the outcome of the mayoral election, the BJP could have scooped up a critical chunk of the Standing Committee, understood to be the most powerful body in the civic body. The Congress has said it would abstain, sparking allegations of "deal-making with the BJP" from AAP councillors.
AAP won 134 of 250 wards in the first municipal election held after the merging of the MCD and redrawing of constituencies last year. The BJP finished second after controlling the civic body for 15 years.
AAP had earlier objected to Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena naming the 10 aldermen without consulting the Delhi government. Oath-taking by the 10 nominated aldermen and the question of their voting had stalled the mayor election thrice. The election was postponed the fourth time to accommodate the Supreme Court hearing.
'Politics By Another Means': S Jaishankar On BBC Docuseries On Modi
NEW DELHI, Feb 21: Foreign Minister S Jaishankar today said the timing of the BBC documentary is "not accidental" and called it "politics by another means" as he denounced the narrative in the foreign media about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government.
"There's a phrase - war by other means. Think of it - this is politics by other means. Why is there suddenly a surge of reports, attention, and views? Will some of these things not happen again?" Dr Jaishankar said, responding to a question on the controversial BBC documentary on PM Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots, and the criticism of billionaire George Soros.
The controversial documentary, which comes a year before the 2024 national election, was taken down from social media platforms last month by the government, which used emergency powers under IT rules.
"You have to make a documentary? Many things happened in Delhi in 1984. Why didn't we see a documentary? I mean, come on, you think the timing is accidental? Let me tell you one thing - I don't know if election season has started in India and Delhi or not but for sure it has started in London and New York," the minister said, referring to the deadly anti-Sikh riots in 1984 by Congress-led mobs after the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards.
Jaishankar remarked that sometimes, politics of India didn't even originate in its borders, but came from outside.
The BBC's two-part series titled "India: The Modi Question", examines allegations that PM Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, didn't do enough to stop the 2002 riots - allegations that were dismissed by the Supreme Court.
"I mean, do you doubt it? Look who the cheerleaders are. What is happening is, just like I told you -- this drip, drip, drip -- how do you shape a very extremist image of India, of the government, of the BJP, of the Prime Minister. I mean, this has been going on for a decade," said Jaishankar.
The motive behind such stories abroad was to further the anti-India agenda, he said.
"Let's not have illusions about it..., there is an echo chamber, it will be picked outside and then they will say it is being said outside, it must be true. Then you will say it inside. There is a ding-dong going on, look this is a globalized world, people take that politics abroad," the Foreign Minister said.
"We are not debating just a documentary or a speech that somebody gave in a European city or a newspaper edits somewhere -- we are debating, actually politics, which is being conducted ostensibly as media -- there is a phrase 'war by other means' this is politics by another means -- I mean you will do a hatchet job, you want to do a hatchet job and say this is just another quest for truth which we decided after 20 years to put at this time."
He challenged those behind the narrative to come to the political arena.
"This is politics at play by people who do not have the courage to come into the political field. They want to have that teflon cover saying that I am an NGO, media organisation etc. They are playing politics," he said.
Supreme Court Orders Chargesheet In 2021 Delhi Hate Speech Case
NEW DELHI, Feb 20: A chargesheet should be filed in the 2021 hate speech case, the Supreme Court told the Delhi Police today, questioning its tardiness in the matter. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, who was leading the bench hearing the case, questioned why the Delhi Police took five months to file a First Information Report and whether anyone has been arrested yet.
The police, the court said, has to file an affidavit giving details of the steps they have taken so far.
"The additional solicitor general submitted that the investigation is now at an advanced stage. The report of the voice sample is expected soon from the forensic lab. A copy of the chargesheet be placed on records. The matter (will be heard) in the first week of April," the bench said in its order.
The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by activist Tushar Gandhi, alleging inaction by the Uttarakhand Police and Delhi Police in alleged hate speech cases. Last month, the court posed a volley of questions to the Delhi Police over the delay in registration of FIR and "no palpable progress" in the investigation.
The case involves alleged hate speech at an event in Delhi organized by the right-wing group Hindu Yuva Vahini in December 2021.
Suresh Chavhanke, the editor of 'Sudarshan News', who was leading the event, had called for the formation of a Hindu nation and urged people to take an oath: "Hindu rashtra ke liye ladenge, marenge aur zarurat padi toh maaarenge (We all pledge to make this country a Hindu nation. We will fight for it, die for it and, if needed. also kill for it)," he had said.
The police had initially claimed that it was not a hate speech, as "there is no use of such words which mean or could be interpreted as 'open calls for genocide of Muslims in order to achieve ethnic cleansing or an open call for murder of an entire community".
But its contention was shot down by the top court at a hearing in April last year. Expressing dissatisfaction with the police statement, the court had called for a "better affidavit".
"This affidavit has been filed by the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Does he approve of this stand? or has he just reproduced the inquiry report by sub inspector level," asked Justice AM Khanwilkar.
'Probe Conduct Of 12 Opposition MPs': Jagdeep Dhankhar To Privilege Panel
NEW DELHI, Feb 20: Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar has asked a parliamentary committee to investigate the alleged breach of privilege by 12 opposition MPs from the Congress and the AAP for repeatedly entering the well of the House, shouting slogans, and obstructing its proceedings.
According to a Rajya Sabha bulletin, nine of the MPs are from the Congress and three from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The Congress MPs are Shaktisinh Gohil, Naranbhai J Rathwa, Syed Nasir Hussain, Kumar Ketkar, Imran Prattapgarhi, L Hanumanthaiah, Phulo Devi Netam, Jebi Mather Hisham, and Ranjeet Ranjan.
The AAP members are Sanjay Singh, Sushil Kumar Gupta, and Sandeep Kumar Pathak.
In the bulletin dated February 18, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said, "...the Chairman...has referred a question of alleged breach of privilege arising out of gross disorderly conduct displayed by (the MPs)....in violation of rules and etiquette of Rajya Sabha by repeatedly entering the well of the council, shouting slogans and persistently and wilfully obstructing the proceedings of the council, compelling the Chair to repeatedly adjourn the sittings of the Council."
The Rajya Sabha saw repeated disruptions due to protests by the opposition MPs over various issues during the first leg of the Budget Session which concluded earlier this month.
In another notice, the Rajya Sabha Secretariat said, "...members are informed that the Chairman, Rajya Sabha has referred a question of alleged breach of privilege arising out of non-adherence to the directions of the Chair vis-a-vis repeated submission of identical notices under rule 267 by Shri Sanjay Singh, Member, Rajya Sabha, under rule 203 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) to the Committee of Privileges for examination, investigation and report."
In Muslim Men's Killing In Haryana, Shocking Claim By Accused
NEW DELHI, Feb 18: The two Muslim men from Rajasthan, who were found charred to death in Haryana earlier this week in what is believed to be an attack by cow vigilantes, were first taken to the cops while still alive, police sources have told NDTV, in a startling new revelation.
According to Rajasthan Police sources, 25-year-old Nasir and 35-year-old Junaid alias Juna were attacked by a group of four men after being suspected of smuggling cows for slaughter on Wednesday night in Haryana's Nuh. They were beaten and injured severely in the attack.
Rinku Saini, a taxi driver and member of the cow vigilante group who was arrested a day ago, has told investigators that they then took the two victims to the nearest police station in Haryana's Firozpur Jhirka, sources said.
They said that Saini and his group wanted Haryana Police to arrest Junaid and Nasir on charges of cow smuggling, but seeing the condition of the two half-dead men, the policemen at the station baulked and asked them to leave. The Haryana Police is yet to respond to the charge.
Not long after, Junaid and Nasir died from their injuries. The terrified group of cow vigilantes then contacted their associates to brainstorm ways of disposing of the bodies, sources said.
They finally decide to take their Bolero SUV and both the bodies to Bhiwani, 200 km away. In the early morning of Thursday, both the bodies, along with the vehicle, were doused in petrol and set alight, police sources said.
According to Saini, they hoped that no one would be able to trace the bodies and the burnt vehicle back to them if they burnt it there, far away from the scene of the crime. However, Junaid and Nasir were identified from the chassis number of the Bolero.
According to Rajasthan Police sources, Monu Manesar of Bajrang Dal - one of the main suspects named by the families of the victims, was not involved in the kidnapping. However, he was in contact with the kidnappers and helped them along the way.
Several police teams are on the lookout for the rest of the killers. Besides Saini and Monu Manesar, the victim's families have named three others - Anil, Srikant, and Lokesh Singhla.
While Haryana authorities moved to cancel the arms licence of Monu Manesar, who remains at large, questions have been raised about his political connections as photos of him with top leaders of the state's ruling BJP circulating on social media.
Election Commission Is Modi's Slave: Uddhav Thackeray
MUMBAI, Feb 18: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday raised the pitch of his attack on the Election Commission, a day after it awarded the Shiv Sena party name and bow-and-arrow symbol to his rival and successor Eknath Shinde.
"The Election Commission, PM [Narendra] Modi's slave, has done something that has never happened before," he said, urging his supporters to be patient and prepare for the next elections - the high-stakes contest for Mumbai's civic body BMC.
Thackeray addressed a large crowd assembled as a show of strength outside Matoshree, the family home of the Thackerays.
He stood out of the sunroof of his car, evoking the image of his father Bal Thackeray, who famously used to address followers from the roof of his car in the party's early days.
The party's symbol has been "stolen" and the "thief" needs to be taught a lesson, Uddhav Thackeray said, a remark aimed at Shinde, the Maharashtra Chief Minister.
In a big blow to Thackeray, the Election Commission on Friday handed over the identity of the party, which his father had founded in 1966, to Shinde, capping a coup that is now nearly eight months old.
Thackeray's team, who had urged the Election Commission to wait for a Supreme Court verdict in the case, has said they will challenge the decision in the top court. The tussle between the two sides is being heard by the Supreme Court.
Shinde had mounted a rebellion in June, flying away with over 40 Sena MLAs with the help of the BJP, and triggering the eventual ouster of Thackeray's government that included two ideologically disparate allies in the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party.
In a 78-page order on the protracted battle for control of the party, the Election Commission said Mr Shinde was supported by MLAs with 76 per cent of the party's winning votes in the 2019 Maharashtra assembly polls.
The poll body said the Uddhav Thackeray faction can keep the name 'Shiv Sena Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray' and the 'flaming torch' symbol assigned last year.
Eknath Shinde welcomed the move as a "victory for democracy" and, protesting Mr Thackeray's characterisation of him as a "traitor", said his rival needed to "introspect".
Rahul Gandhi Writes To PM With 'Message' From Kashmiri Pandits
NEW DELHI, Feb 3: Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking protection for Kashmiri Pandits who are working in Kashmir valley amid recent targeted killings by terrorists.
Gandhi said he met a Kashmiri Pandit delegation during the recent Bharat Jodo Yatra when it entered Jammu and Kashmir.
The Congress leader alleged the delegation complained the authorities in Jammu region have been forcing Kashmiri Pandit employees, who had fled Kashmir valley after terror attacks, to return to the valley and resume work.
"They (Kashmiri Pandit delegation) told me that government officials have been forcing them to go to Kashmir valley to work. Sending them back to Kashmir valley when the safety and security situation are clearly not good is a cruel thing to do," Gandhi said in Hindi in the letter to PM Modi.
"Till the situation improves, the government can use the services of these Kashmiri Pandit employees in other administrative and public facilities... I had assured our Kashmiri Pandit brothers and sisters that I will try my best to take their message of concerns and demands to you," the Congress MP said.
The Congress's Bharat Jodo Yatra, or unite India march, ended in Jammu and Kashmir last week, several months after it started from India's southernmost tip Kanyakumari.
Some 4,000 Kashmiri Pandits have been working in Kashmir valley since their selection under the Prime Minister's employment package announced in 2008.
The package has two key components - giving jobs to 6,000 young Kashmiri Pandits and building accommodation for them.
Adani storm hits Parliament as stock meltdown continues
NEW DELHI, Feb 2: Opposition lawmakers on Thursday disrupted both Houses of Parliament as they demanded an investigation into allegations of fraud against the Adani Group under the supervision of the Supreme Court or by a joint parliamentary committee, while the market woes of one of India’s biggest conglomerates deepened with the group losing more than $100bn, or ₹8.76 lakh crore, in value in six days.
The developments came a day after Adani abruptly abandoned its $2.5 billion follow-on stock offering in a late-night statement, hours after its flagship Adani Enterprises lost a staggering 28% in value over a single session.
Shares of Adani Enterprises tumbled a further 26% on Thursday, and other group firms also took a beating, with many hitting their circuit breakers.
Opposition MPs raised the matter in both Houses. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said an investigation should cover the manner “in which government-owned companies are forced to invest in firms”.
“All the parties together, we have taken a stand that this wastage of LIC’s money and of money taken as loan from SBI and possibly many other such financial institutions where the hard-earned money of the common ban has been deposited, by investigated either by a joint parliamentary committee or a probe under the Supreme Court with day-to-day updates,” he said, adding that the objective was not to targeting anyone personally.
The mayhem in Adani stocks was precipitated by a report by an American activist investor group Hindenburg Research, which accused the conglomerate of improper use of tax havens and stock manipulation, while also raising concerns over high debt levels.
The conglomerate has denied the accusations, saying the short-seller’s allegation of stock manipulation has “no basis” and stems from an ignorance of Indian law.
In a video address on Thursday, Gautam Adani said the decision to scrap the share offering was made “to insulate the investors from potential losses.”
“For me, the interest of my investors is paramount and everything else is secondary,” he said.
Soon after the Lok Sabha proceeding started, Opposition MPs demanded a discussion on the Adani issue. The Congress and other parties gave adjournment motions but later, the presiding officer rejected them.
Rajya Sabha was adjourned seven minutes after the House assembled. As many as nine lawmakers had given notices under Rule 267 to suspend business to take up pressing issues. Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar said the notices were not in order and did not allow the suspension of business. When the opposition protested, Dhankhar adjourned the House till 2pm.
BRS leader K Kesava Rao, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, Leader of Opposition Kharge were among the nine MPs who gave a notice to discuss the issue investment by the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), other public sector banks, and financial institutions in companies losing market value, which was an unnamed reference to the Adani Group firms.
“People are losing crores of rupees by investing in LIC, SBI and other nationalised banks. We need to have a discussion in Parliament to know the truth,” Kharge said.
Other leaders who had given notices were CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem, Shiv Sena MP (Uddhav Thackeray faction) Priyanka Chaturvedi, and CPI leader Binoy Viswam.
On Friday, too, the Opposition is expected to maintain the pressure on the government and demand a debate in both Houses of Parliament.
Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha Parliamentary leader Derek O Brien tweeted: “Deafening silence of ED on India’s biggest scam. Institutions like LIC, SBI lost more than 1 lakh crore. Will GoI use draconian PMLA now like they do to hound opposition & topple elected govts? #NaKhaungaNaKhaneDunga.”
Congress chief whip Jairam Ramesh also referred to the issue in a tweet, writing: “The Modi government is clearly cornered on the Adani issue. She does not even want to allow this matter to be mentioned in the Parliament. This is the reason why both the Houses were adjourned within a few minutes after 2pm without giving a chance to the opposition to demand formation of JPC regarding this scam.”
Country’s largest lender SBI previously said its exposure to Adani group is fully secured by cash generating assets, in an attempt to assuage investor concerns.
Another public sector lender Bank of Baroda has said its total exposure to the embattled group stood at ₹7,000 crore, which is also fully secured.
LIC disclosed having an exposure of ₹36,474.78 crore to Adani group’s debt and equity, and added that the amount is less than one per cent of its total investments, it was reported on Thursday.
But fears over the fallout persist.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has sought details about lenders’ exposures to the Adani Group, unnamed officials told three news agencies.
RBI gets access to banks’ large corporate borrowers on a regular basis as part of the central repository of information on large credits (CRILC) data base, PTI reported, quoting banking sources.
Several chief ministers, too, raised the issue on Thursday.
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Thursday claimed LIC and SBI continued to invest in the Adani group despite the shares of its companies crashed.
“When we used to speak against the BJP, we were dubbed as anti-Hindu and when against the Prime Minister and home minister, we were described as anti-national. Now the comments have come (from Adani group) that they (Hindenburg) are Bharat Virodhi (anti-India). They (Adani group) are saying it is an attack on Bharat and not on Adani. Who is Bharat? Is Adani ji Bharat?,” asked Baghel.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP was using people’s money deposited with LIC and nationalised banks to benefit some of its party leaders. “The share market witnessed a massive crash after the Union budget was presented… Telephone calls were made to some people asking them to pump in several thousand crores of rupees,” Banerjee said at a function in Purba Bardhaman district.