The Congress on Monday attacked the government over the fall in the value of LIC's holdings in the Adani Group and asked who "forced this pillar of India's financial system" to take such a “risky exposure” to the conglomerate.
Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh raised the issue as part of the opposition party's 'Hum Adani ke Hain Kaun' posers for the prime minister posted daily on Twitter.
He claimed that with the continuing sell-off in Adani Group stocks, the value of LIC's holdings in the Group has fallen by a “shocking” Rs 52,000 crore since December 31, 2022.
“It is now worth Rs 32,000 crore and the entire profit made by the LIC and its crores of policyholders, which we now know was due to stock market manipulation and money laundering, has been wiped out and caused a major loss for LIC,” Ramesh alleged.
"Who forced this pillar of India's financial system to take such a risky exposure to your favourite businessman,” Ramesh asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his statement.
“When will you be held accountable for this gambling with the savings of India's citizens?” he said.
The Adani Group's stocks had taken a beating on the bourses after US-based short seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share-price manipulation, against it. The group has dismissed the charges as lies, saying it complies with all laws and disclosure requirements.
Ramesh alleged that even as the leading market index providers MSCI, S&P Dow Jones and FTSE Russell review the weighting of Adani Group firms, the National Stock Exchange (NSE) has “failed” to take any serious action to protect investors.
Instead, the NSE announced on February 17, 2023 that an additional five Adani Group companies currently crashing in the stock markets would be included in no less than 14 indices, he said.
“This has caused many financial advisers to advise their clients not to invest in funds that use those indices as benchmarks. But lakhs of hapless investors are still at risk of being forced to bail out collapsing Adani companies with their hard-earned savings,” the Congress general secretary said.
Are you putting pressure on the NSE to bail out “your close friend”, Ramesh asked.
Why is SEBI not being allowed to take action to ensure that lakhs of investors are not duped into investing in a “collapsing business group”, he also asked.
Ramesh also raised questions on the tender to redevelop Mumbai's Dharavi area won by the Adani Group.
He urged the PM to break his “silence” on the issue.
The Congress and several Opposition parties have been demanding a joint parliamentary committee probe over the Adani issue.