As India prepares for the festive season and the economy gradually unshackles itself from the coronavirus-induced lockdown, several sectors of the economy have registered impressive revival. One of them being the automobile sector. After Hyundai, Maruti Suzuki and Hero Motocorp, now the Bajaj Auto has recorded highest ever monthly sales in the last month.
Bajaj Auto reported highest-ever monthly sales of 5.12 lakh units, beating several estimates and registering an 11 per cent year-on-year growth in October 2020.
While the domestic growth in sales has marginally improved by 1 per cent as compared to the numbers recorded in October 2019, the exports had witnessed a stunning 25 per cent growth, with 2.30 lakh units exported in the month of October 2020 against 1.84 lakhs that were sold last year in the same month.
Bajaj Auto’s growth in stark contrast to MD Rajiv Bajaj’s despondent forecast
However, this double-digit overall growth reported by Bajaj is in stark contrast to the gloomy picture painted by its Managing Director a few days ago. On October 26, Bajaj Auto MD Rajiv Bajaj bemoaned that the two-wheeler industry in the country is under tremendous strain and the sales figures reported across the industry are not as impressive as it ought to be in the festive season. He had said that he was not optimistic about demand coming back during the rest of the fiscal year. Bajaj pinned the blame of the ‘downturn’ on new regulations such as ABS, BS 6 etc for the slowdown in the sector, and the policies of the government.
Just a week after Rajiv Bajaj lamented that the government policies have done little to improve the automobile sector, outstanding numbers posted by several companies, including his own, betrays a completely different picture, leading many to believe if Rajiv Bajaj’s misplaced apprehensions were politically motivated, especially with the opposition parties rallying against the government for the alleged messing up of the economy in the aftermath of the crippling coronavirus lockdown.
Rajiv Bajaj’s bleak outlook for the two-wheelers segment in the last week of October did not jibe with the sales figures posted by automobile companies just days later. Bajaj’s pessimistic views about the growth of the two-wheelers’ market came in the last few days of October, a month where his own company had seen a record highest-ever monthly sales of 5.12 lakh units.
Surely, these numbers did not magically conjure up after Bajaj raised his concerns over the slump in the automobile sector. It is also highly unlikely that Bajaj’s sales figure were dragging until October 26 and picked up only when the company MD voiced his anxiety over the stagnation. The growth must have been a constant theme of the entire month of October, which led to Bajaj register such an excellent sales figures.
Being the MD of one of the biggest Indian conglomerate, Bajaj can certainly not be oblivious to the unprecedented growth recorded by his company in the first three weeks of October after which he came out and painted a picture of gloom and doom in the automobile sector. This has led many netizens to question the real intentions of Rajiv Bajaj for fear-mongering about the alleged recession in the two-wheelers segment.
Social Media users allege “insider trading” against Rajiv Bajaj for his misleading assertions
With Bajaj posting spectacular sales figures, several social media users have asked the Securities and Exchange Board of India(SEBI), the watchdog that regulates the Stock Markets in India, to probe Rajiv Bajaj for a possible case of “insider trading”.
That explanation appears to strongly point to an “insider trading” angle. Mr Rajiv Bajaj’s shareholdings, and transactions, covering the period leading to his false statement and the Co’s results, must be thoroughly investigated.— Shree Panicker (@ShreePanicker) November 2, 2020
Insider trading is defined as a malpractice wherein trade of a company’s securities is undertaken by people who by virtue of their work have access to the otherwise non-public information which can be crucial for making investment decisions. Netizens have alleged that by putting out wrong and misleading information in the public domain, Bajaj may have attempted to manipulate the stock markets.
One social media user suggested that the record numbers appears to strongly point to an “insider trading” angle. Mr Rajiv Bajaj’s shareholdings, and transactions, covering the period leading to his false statement and the Co’s results, must be thoroughly investigated, he suggested.
Another user wondered should not Rajiv Bajaj be probed for insider trading as his false proclamations in the last week of October resulted in the steep fall of stock prices of two-wheelers.
Shouldn’t Rajiv Bajaj be probed for Insider Trading? He made a false claim and the stocks of 2Wheelers fell. What about the losses of the shareholders?— Amit Dahal (@AmitDahal) November 2, 2020
SEBI must investigate BAJAJ statement. This could be insider trading. Wrong information being given to public, tanking stock and then publishing different report.— Solid Snake (@SaapAadmi) November 2, 2020
This is not the first time that Bajaj Auto has been under the criticism for a possible case of “insider trading”. Back in 2013, suspicions of insider trading against Bajaj gained momentum when the company stock had fallen by as much as 10 per cent from Rs 264 levels on huge volumes, following which Bajaj Corp had announced an offer for sale at Rs 200.
The highly unusual trade activity with huge volumes led people to speculate if anyone in the management of the organisation knew about the OFS announcement to be made by the company shortly thereafter.
Rajiv Bajaj had joined hands with Rahul Gandhi to peddle lies about India’s post-COVID economic recovery
Also to be noted here is that Rajiv Bajaj has often criticised the government for its policies and appeared to side with the Congress party. Recently, he partook in an interview with Rahul Gandhi which was rife with brazen lies and distortions to allege that the government had been incompetent in handling the coronavirus crisis and the resulting economic downturn faced by the country.
In the interview with Bajaj, Gandhi made a slew of unfounded allegations against the government, claiming that the Narendra Modi government did not provide any stimulus package to various sectors of the economy, which has seen a downturn due to the effects of the global pandemic coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the government to tackle it.
With Rajiv Bajaj’s strident criticism of the Modi government and his political inclinations apparent, many have alleged that his recent statements regarding the alleged decline in the two-wheelers segment was meant to fortify opposition parties’ assertion that India’s economy is in a tailspin and that the Modi government has been unable to rescue it.