That the Opposition parties would not allow the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or the Narendra Modi-led government the comfort of sweeping under the carpet the controversies around the Gautam Adani coal-to-consumables group was clear this week when as many as 16 parties led by the Congress demanded that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) initiate immediate action against the group over allegations of fraud, corrupt practices, and money laundering through shell companies. The parties have repeatedly attempted to bring up the issue in the Parliament and put the government on the backfoot demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the allegations.
ED has refused to even sniff in the direction of the Adani group
The government has pretended that there is no story there, let alone a global controversy which saw the Adani group lose hundreds of billions worth of market capitalisation since the allegations were made in late January. In training the guns on ED, the Opposition drove home two points. One, that despite serious allegations and its repercussions around the world, the ED has refused to even sniff in the direction of the Adani group. And two, this completely contrasts with ED’s swift actions against a slew of political leaders from the opposition across India in relatively minor matters. In the letter, which Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge first signed, the opposition told the ED that “it cannot turn around and abdicate its jurisdiction”. When prevented from handing over the letter to the ED Director S K Mishra, they emailed it to him.
The ED’s bias is starkly evident. Its independence has come under a dark cloud in recent years given that its actions have smacked of political intent. Politics is also at the heart of the government’s embarrassment and disgrace in its response — or lack of it — to the Adani controversy. Despite the worldwide ruckus and financial meltdown of the Adani Group, including on the exposure of the State Bank of India (SBI) and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) to the group, the government has consistently refused to engage on the issue. Conjecture that this kid-glove treatment is on account of Gautam Adani’s proximity to the Prime Minister is not without basis. The ED, unfortunately, resembles the government’s hand-maiden, but the Opposition has shown it the mirror.
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