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‘Seems a targeted attack’: Sharad Pawar on Hindenburg report against Adani Group; slams Congress’ ‘Ambani-Adani’ strategy of targeting large corps

Speaking to NDTV about the attack on the Adani Group by the Congress Party, the NCP stalwart said unequivocally that it seemed like a targeted attack to him, adding that he does not agree with Rahul Gandhi's 'Ambani-Adani' strategy of targeting large corps.

Sharad Pawar, the chief of the Nationalist Congress Party, an alliance partner of Congress in Maharashtra, on Friday said he felt the Adani Group has been targeted. The remark came in the wake of political rhetorics against the business conglomerate after the US-based Hindenburg Research accused the Adani Group of stock manipulation and accounting fraud

Speaking to NDTV about the attack on the Adani Group by the Congress Party, the NCP stalwart said unequivocally that it seemed like a targeted attack to him.

“Such statements were given by other individuals too earlier and there was a ruckus in parliament for a few days but this time out proportion importance was given to the issue. The issues that were kept, who kept them, we had never heard of these people who gave the statement, what is the background. When they raise issues that cause a ruckus across the country, the cost is borne by the country’s economy, we cannot disregard these things. It seems this was targeted,” Pawar told the NDTV journalist Sanjay Pugalia.

“An individual industrial group of the country was targeted, that is what it seems. If they have done anything wrong, there should be an inquiry,” he added.

When asked whether he was in agreement with Congress’ demand for a JPC probe into the Hidenburg’s report, the NCP chief’s answer was in the negative.

He stated that after the demand was made, the Supreme Court launched an investigation and formed a team comprised of a former Supreme Court judge, an expert, an administrator, and an economist. They were given rules and a timetable to undertake an investigation.

Sharad Pawar questions opposition’s demand over a JPC probe, says SC-monitored probe more reliable

“On the other hand, the opposition wanted a parliamentary committee to be appointed. If a parliamentary committee is appointed, then monitoring is with the ruling party. The demand was against the ruling party, and if the committee appointed for an inquiry has a ruling party majority, then how will the truth comes out is a valid concern. If the Supreme Court, who no one can influence, if they were to conduct the inquiry, then there was a better chance of the truth coming to light. So, after the Supreme Court announced an inquiry, there was no significance of a JPC Probe. It was not needed,” Pawar said.

On being questioned on Congress’s intent behind pushing for a JPC probe, the NCP supremo said, “I cannot say what the intent was but I know that a committee appointed by judges of the Supreme Court was very important, this is what I know. Maybe the reasoning could have been that once a JPC starts, its proceedings are reported in the media on a daily basis. Perhaps someone would have wanted the issue to fester for two to four months, but the truth would never have come out.”

Pawar made it plain that he did not agree with Rahul Gandhi’s “Adani-Ambani” strategy of targeting large corporations. He said, referring to the “Tata-Birla” narrative of the past, that it was completely meaningless.

“This has been happening in this country for many years. I remember many years ago that when we came into politics if we had to speak against the government, we used to speak against Tata-Birla. Who was the target? Tata-Birla. When we understood the contribution of Tata, we used to wonder why we kept on saying Tata Birla. But one had to target someone so we used to target Tata-Birla. Today the name of Tata-Birla is not at the forefront, different Tata-Birla has come before the government. So these days if you have to attack the government, the name of Ambani and Adani is taken. The question is, that the people you are targeting, if they have done something wrong, or misused their powers, then in a democracy, you have a right to speak against them 100 per cent, but to attack without anything meaningful, this I cannot understand,” Pawar continued.

“Today, Ambani has contributed to the petrochemical sector, does the country not need it? In the field of electricity, Adani has contributed. Does the country not need electricity? These are people who take up such responsibility and work for the name of the country. If they have done wrong, you attack, but they have created this infrastructure, to criticise them does not feel right to me,” he said

“There can be different viewpoints and criticism, one has the right to speak strongly about the policies of the government, but a discussion should take place. A discussion and dialogue are very important in any democracy, if you ignore discussion and dialogue the system will fall into danger, it will just perish,” Pawar added in an indirect reference to the Congress’s relentless campaign.

Congress continues to demand a JPC probe into allegations levelled by Hindenburg against the Adani Group

Even as Pawar denounced attacking business groups, his political ally in Congress remained among the political parties who ratcheted up the attack against the Adani Group after Hindenburg Research reported on the business conglomerate.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly trotted out ‘Adani and Ambani’ jibes to attack the current dispensation even as Congress-ruled state governments have generously indulged the businessmen. 

On Thursday, April 6, the final day of the second leg of the budget session, both Houses were rocked by continuous sloganeering by the Opposition seeking a JPC probe into the Adani case. While Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla was speaking about the House’s productivity, opposition leaders entered the House well with placards calling for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the Adani-Hindenburg issue.

Hindenburg Research report accuses Adani Group of fraud and stock price manipulation 

Hindenburg Research, which claimed of having conducted an investigation for the last two years, said Gautam Adani, the founder and chairman of the Adani Group, has a net worth of approximately $120 billion, mainly due to an 819% average stock price growth in the group’s seven most significant publicly traded companies over the last three years.

The research involved interviewing multiple individuals, including former senior executives of the Adani Group, examining thousands of documents, and conducting due diligence site visits in nearly a dozen countries, Hindenburg Research said. 

“Even if you ignore the findings of our investigation and take the financials of Adani Group at face value, its seven key listed companies have 85% downside purely on a fundamental basis owing to sky-high valuations,” said the forensic financial research company in its report.

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