Congress Questions LIC’s ‘Increased’ Holding In Adani EnterprisesApr 11, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
The Congress on Tuesday alleged that public-sector LIC is being “forced” to use its policyholders’ funds to “bail out” the Adani group and stressed the demand for a JPC probe is “essential and urgent”.
Congress general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh claimed in a statement that Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) holding in Adani Enterprises, one of the listed companies of the Adani Group, at the end of June 2021 was 1.32 per cent and by the end of December 2022, it reached 4.23 percent.
“The revelation that LIC’s holding in Adani Enterprises has increased while its stock value has fallen sharply once again strengthens the case for a JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) to investigate the PM-linked Adani ‘Mega Scam’,” Ramesh said on Twitter.
He said “serious questions” began to be raised about the Adani Group on January 24, 2023. “Now it turns out that LIC’s holding in Adani Enterprises had further increased to 4.26 percent by the end of March 2023,” he said.
The LIC had on January 30 said it has an exposure of Rs 36,474.78 crore to Adani group’s debt and equity, and the amount is less than one per cent of the national insurer’s total investments.
LIC’s total assets under management stood at over Rs 41.66 lakh crore as of September 2022.
The disclosure by the LIC, which is also the country’s largest domestic institutional investor, came amid Adani Group stocks taking a beating on the bourses after the short-selling specialist firm Hindenburg Research in a report made a litany of allegations, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation, at the Gautam Adani-led group. The allegations have been rejected by the group.
On Tuesday, Ramesh said the increase in LIC holding took place at a time when the market value of Adani Enterprises’ stock had fallen by almost 60 percent, even as LIC bought as many as 3.75 lakh shares in Adani Enterprises during the January-March 2023 quarter.
“Very clearly, LIC is being forced to use its policyholders’ funds to bail out the PM’s favourite business group which is under siege. This makes the constitution of a JPC all the more essential and urgent,” Ramesh said in the statement.
The Congress and many opposition parties have been demanding a joint Parliamentary committee probe into the Adani group in the wake of the Hindenburg report.
NCP leader Sharad Pawar, a Congress ally, recently said that the Supreme Court panel to look into the Hindenburg research report on the Adani group will be more effective instead of a Parliamentary committee.
However, the Congress has defended the demand for a JPC. The entire budget session of Parliament was almost washed out amid uproar by the Congress and other opposition parties on the Adani issue.
Meanwhile, in a politically astute manoeuvre, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said although his outfit does not agree with the demand of anti-BJP parties for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into allegations against the Adani group, it will not go against their stand for the sake of Opposition unity.
The former Union minister had earlier said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would have a majority if a joint House panel is formed, given its numerical strength in Parliament and this would lead to doubts on the outcome of such a probe.
“The opinion of our friendly parties (on JPC) is different from ours, but we want to maintain our unity. I gave my opinion (on futility of JPC probe), but if our colleagues (Opposition parties) feel that JPC is a must then we will not oppose it. We don’t agree with them (Opposition parties), but for the sake of Opposition unity, we will not insist on this (that there should be no JPC),” said Pawar in an interview with Marathi news channel ABP Majha.
On Saturday, the Rajya Sabha MP had told reporters he is not completely opposed to a JPC probe into the charges against the Adani group, but a Supreme Court-appointed inquiry committee will be “more useful and effective” in dealing with the matter. Following Pawar’s remarks, seen as a setback for Opposition unity, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had said the NCP may have its views on the issue, but 19 like-minded parties are convinced the “PM-linked Adani group” issue is real and very serious.
The Supreme Court last month ordered setting up of a six-member committee headed by a former apex court judge to look into various regulatory aspects for stock markets, including the recent Adani Group shares crash triggered by the Hindenburg Research’s fraud allegations.