New Delhi | The Congress on Saturday cited a media report on the Adani Group's growing share in port operations to allege that this is not only a "textbook case of crony capitalism" but a potential threat to national security.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said that in the party's "Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun" series of 100 questions, it had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi three pointed questions on how Adani had become India's largest ports operator "without engaging in any competitive bidding and with the help of government raids on owners of private ports — who miraculously decided to sell their assets thereafter to Adani".
"An Indian Express report today highlights growing concerns at the highest level of government about the strategic implications of this Modi-made Monopoly (3M)," Ramesh said.
A senior shipping ministry official has said that high market concentration brings a real risk of abuse of this dominance, Ramesh pointed out, citing the report.
"A senior official from one of the economic ministries has expressed concerns that market concentration by a firm facing serious and credible allegations of accounting fraud and stock manipulation is an issue in a strategic sector like ports," he said.
The opposition party has been questioning the financial dealings of billionaire Gautam Adani's Group after the US-based Hindenburg Research alleged "irregularities" and charged it with stock price manipulation.
The Adani Group has denied all the allegations made in the Hindenburg report and claimed there had been no wrongdoing on its part.
Ramesh also pointed out that a former Competition Commission of India chairperson has stated that the “creeping acquisition of capacity by one player while the others fall or languish” is a growing concern.
"Adani has gone from 10% to 24% of total ports traffic in the past decade, and today controls a huge 57% of cargo volumes outside of India's government-owned 'major ports'," the Congress leader said.
"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," he alleged.
"A friend who has shady connections with Chinese and Emirati individuals, who are not only involved in over-invoicing and stock manipulation but also have been given exclusive rights to build ports for Adani," he said.
Ramesh asserted that this is not only a "textbook case of crony capitalism" but a potential threat to national security.
"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 MegaScam," he said.
According to the media report cited by Ramesh, from just one big port, Mundra, in 2001, the Adani Group today has grown to be the largest private operator with as many as 14 ports and terminals handling a quarter of all cargo passing through the country's ports.