Adani Mega Scam: Congress Alleges Crony Capitalism and National Security Threats
Congress has intensified its accusations of crony capitalism against the government, citing reports on the Adani Group’s increasing role in port operations. The party’s communications chief, Jairam Ramesh, raised concerns about the Adani Group’s growing influence and its potential impact on national security. Ramesh stated that the party had included these concerns in the 100 questions it posed to the government as part of its ‘Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun’ series.
The central issue raised by Congress is how the Adani Group became the largest ports operator in India without participating in competitive bidding and with the apparent assistance of government actions against private port owners who subsequently decided to sell their assets to Adani. Ramesh criticized this, stating, “By brazenly handing control of a critical strategic sector to his close friend – one who faces serious accusations of criminality – the PM has made himself and India a global laughing stock.” The party reiterated its demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate what it calls “the Adani Mega Scam.”
A senior official from the shipping ministry has expressed concerns about the high market concentration in the ports sector, noting the risk of abuse of this dominance. This aligns with Congress’s concerns about Adani’s dominance in the sector. Ramesh also highlighted a former Competition Commission of India chairperson’s statement that the “creeping acquisition of capacity by one player while the others fall or languish” is a growing concern. The Adani Group has increased its share of total ports traffic from 10% to 24% in the past decade and now controls 57% of cargo volumes outside of India’s government-owned ‘major ports.’
Ramesh alleged that the Prime Minister’s decision to hand control of such a critical strategic sector to a close friend with questionable connections not only exemplifies crony capitalism but also poses a potential threat to national security. He emphasized the alleged connections between the Adani Group and individuals from China and the United Arab Emirates who are accused of over-invoicing and stock manipulation and have been granted exclusive rights to build ports for Adani.
The Congress leader asserted that this situation warrants a thorough investigation, stating, “Since PM Modi and his pet agencies can’t be expected to investigate this, we reiterate our call for a JPC to look into all aspects of the Adani Mega Scam.”
Ramesh referred to a media report that outlined the Adani Group’s growth from operating just one major port, Mundra, in 2001, to becoming the largest private operator with 14 ports and terminals handling a quarter of all cargo passing through India’s ports. This expansion has raised concerns about the concentration of power and influence within the sector.
Additionally, Ramesh pointed out discrepancies between the Union Coal Ministry’s insistence that domestic coal production and stocks are sufficient and the Union Power Ministry’s direction to utilities to import coal. He suggested that the Adani Group could be a significant beneficiary of this directive, given its close ties to the government. Ramesh also shared a media report indicating that India has asked utilities to import six percent of their coal until March.
In summary, Congress is deeply concerned about the Adani Group’s growing influence in the ports sector, which it sees as a prime example of crony capitalism. The party argues that the government’s alleged favoritism toward Adani poses not only economic but also national security risks. These concerns have led to calls for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate what they refer to as the “Adani Mega Scam.”