Does the Mention of an Adani Connection Trigger the Modi Government?

There is an interesting sequence of events since Rahul Gandhi made a speech in Parliament on Adani, on February 7. Almost all references to Adani and ‘Adani-Modi’ have been gagged in the House and Parliament held hostage for two weeks by the ruling party. The Congress now says there is a connection between Gandhi’s speech and the action in the Surat court.

New Delhi: Senior party leader, Jairam Ramesh levelled a serious charge this afternoon and said that it was “nine days after Rahul Gandhi’s Adani speech in LS on Feb 7th, the defamation case against him gets fast tracked by the complainant withdrawing his own stay in the HC on 16th Feb. On 27th Feb arguments resume after 1 year. 17th March judgement reserved.” He said that, “This is not a coincidence.”

The Congress has alleged that there is causation, not merely correlation between the resumption of the hearings in Surat against Rahul Gandhi, after a curious suspension with the complainant seeking to delay proceedings. It is the defendant who usually does that.

The case was filed on April 16, 2019, and Rahul Gandhi appeared in the court of the then CJM, Surat, A.N. Dave on June 24, 2021, to record his statement in person. The case was filed by a Gujarat state cabinet minister and three-times MLA from Surat West, in March 2022, when the complainant’s request for Rahul Gandhi to be summoned again was rejected by the CJM who insisted arguments commence immediately, the complainant rushed to the high court and sought a stay on the trial’s proceedings. This was granted on March 7, 2022.

Also read: The Real Reason for Banishing Rahul Gandhi

After a break of 11 months, the complainant went back to the high court on February 16, 2023, seeking vacation of the stay, pleading that “sufficient evidence has come on record of the trial court and the pendency of the present matter delays the trial”. Though no new evidence had come on record since the stay and the “pendency of the matter” was entirely at his own instance, the complainant was granted the relief he sought. 

Complainant Purnesh Modi’s decision to restart a trial he had himself put on hold for a year came barely a week after Rahul Gandhi had launched a sharp attack on Narendra Modi in parliament over his links to controversial businessman Gautam Adani.

Rahul Gandhi in parliament, in what was his last speech. Photo: Twitter/@RahulGandhi

The Lok Sabha speech by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on February 7 seems to have set other things in motion too, far away from Surat, in parliament. Portions of Gandhi’s speech that hit out at the prime minister for allegedly facilitating the unencumbered growth of Adani Group were expunged from the parliamentary records at the behest of speaker Om Birla on February 8. 18 portions were knocked out.

  • An exchange between Birla and Gandhi followed at the end of his speech when speaker Birla asked Gandhi to refrain from making a comment that microphones could be muted if an opposition member criticises the Union government. Gandhi responded by saying that the reality was that microphones have been previously muted before when opposition members attempted to point out failures of the Union government.
  • Congress MP Rajani Patil was suspended from Rajya Sabha on February 10 for the current session for purportedly recording House Proceedings. This was when the Opposition raising slogans of ‘Modi-Adani Bhai Bhai’ in the well of the House. The clips that Patil put out, shared images of the Opposition MPs shouting, ostensibly, which was not shown by Sansad TV.
  • Rajya Sabha chairman in a controversial move asked the privileges committee to investigate the ‘disorderly conduct’ of 12 opposition MPs. According to a Rajya Sabha bulletin, nine of the MPs are from the Congress and three from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
  • Senior Congress leader Pawan Khera was arrested by the Assam Police in connection with an FIR registered for allegedly for using objectionable words against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The objectionable words were a comment in passing he made, mistakenly, like in a comic stand-up routine mistaking Modi’s full-name, Narendra Damodardas Modi with ‘Narendra Gautamdas Modi’. The airport turned into a cantonment briefly and he  was deplaned from an IndiGo flight headed to Raipur at the Delhi airport on Thursday morning by security personnel. Later in the evening, on Supreme Court directions, he was granted interim bail till Tuesday and was released. He was travelling to attend the Congress’s 85th plenary along with other party colleagues.
  • The Congress alleged earlier this month that the audio was muted in parliament to silence voices of protest against the government on not allowing for a discussion on Adani and not constituting a JPC on the Adani issue. The ruling BJP said the absence of audio was a “technical fault”.
  • The Congress on March 22 concluded its ‘Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun’ protest campaign series with its 100th question to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — whether the SEBI, ED, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and CBI will take action against the Adani Group. But Parliament was never allowed to function by Treasury benches so none of this could be said in Parliament.
  • Rahul Gandhi is not allowed to speak at all in the House, he wrote twice to the Lok Sabha speaker, saying he is being denied his right as a member of parliament to reply and be heard.

It is hard to prove that there is a direct Adani connection to the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha, but the sequence of events raises enough questions about such a possibility. The government would be hard-pressed to deny such a linkage with any authority, considering how PM Modi has avoided a response to any mention of Adani.