The Adani controversy raged in Parliament on Tuesday as both Houses resumed after a three-day logjam and started the motion of thanks on the President’s address. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi stirred up the Adani debate during the motion of thanks and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for promoting billionaire businessman Gautam Adani’s interests and meteoric rise in the last eight years.

In a nearly hour-long speech, which was focussed on Adani’s rise and Prime Minister Modi’s alleged support for the businessman’s rise, Gandhi wondered if a “miracle” may have happened in Adani’s scaling up in the rich list rankings from 609th position in 2014 to number 2 in 2022. He flashed pictures of the PM with Adani to bolster his argument that both have close ties.

Gandhi said that the youth of the country witnessed how Adani’s net worth increased from $8 billion to $140 billion between 2014 and 2022.

Even as Gandhi hurled several charges at Modi and his links with Adani, there was a sharp response from the Treasury benches, with Law Minister Kiren Rijiju asking the Congress leader not to level “wild allegations” against the Prime Minister and the ruling dispensation and wanting the Congress leader to furnish proof of his claims.

‘Baseless allegations’

Later, addressing the media, former Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Rahul Gandhi made baseless, shameless, and reckless allegations against PM Modi... The Congress and its leaders were involved in all those big scams that tarnished the image of India.” Prasad also referred to the National Herald case and the AgustaWestland scam case to attack the Gandhi family. “It’s time to revive the memory of Rahul Gandhi on corruption,” he said, alleging that Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi, and her son-in-law Robert Vadra “are on bail.”

Meanwhile in Parliament, Gandhi alleged that Adani’s diversification over the last eight years and fast growth in sectors such as defence, ports, power, renewable energy, and airports have been possible largely on account of the Centre’s support. He reeled out various instances as to how the ruling dispensation had come to the aid of billionaire Gautam Adani in bagging contracts both within the country and abroad.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla urged Gandhi to focus on the President’s address and disapproved of the latter displaying a picture of PM Modi with Adani in the business tycoon’s plane to highlight their alleged proximity.

Gandhi had claimed in his speech that the relationship between PM Modi and Adani began several years ago, when Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. “The real magic began when PM Modi reached Delhi in 2014,” Gandhi said.

Arrow of questions

Gandhi had several questions for the Prime Minister. “How many times have you travelled together (on a foreign trip) with Adaniji?” How many times has Adaniji joined you later on your foreign trip? How many times did he reach you after you landed in a foreign country? How many times has Adaniji bagged a contract in a foreign country after your visit there?” Gandhi asked.

Besides slamming the government for the Agnipath Scheme, which he said was imposed on the Army, the Congress leader also wanted the government to share the details of political donations made through “electoral bonds” by the Adani group to the BJP in recent years.