In the 26th instalment of the series, 'Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun' (HAHK), the Congress party asked three questions to prime minister (PM) Narendra Modi about Adani group's business interests in Sri Lanka.
In a release, Jairam Ramesh, member of Parliament (MP) and general secretary for communications of Congress, says, " We have previously asked you twice about your apparent haste to enrich your friend Gautam Adani’s group at the expense of our close neighbour Bangladesh. Today we are demanding answers about how you have been foisting your favourite business group on another important neighbour, Sri Lanka."
Here are the three questions asked by Congress to PM…
(1) The governments of India, Japan and Sri Lanka (then headed by PM Ranil Wickremesinghe) signed a memorandum on 28 May 2019 to develop the East Container Terminal in Colombo South Port with participation from India and Japan. A year later, on 9 June 2020, the Sri Lankan Cabinet, headed by PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, announced that India had 'selected' Adani Ports as its foreign terminal operator. Following its unexpected cancellation of the deal, the Rajapaksa government instead offered Colombo’s West Container Terminal to India and Japan under a 35-year build-operate-transfer lease which was finalised on 30 September 2021. A Sri Lankan Cabinet spokesperson said that India had 'nominated' Adani Ports as the partner. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry described it as a 'government-to-government' port project in a 5 March 2023 interview. On what basis did you 'select' and 'nominate' Adani Ports for this government-to-government deal? Did any other Indian firm have the opportunity to consider investing or did you simply reserve the deal for your close friends?
(2) The Vajpayee government’s 2002 decision not to invest in the strategic Hambantota Port cleared the path for Chinese firms to enter Sri Lanka’s ports sector. India’s investment in Colombo is partly driven by the need to counter China’s expansion in our immediate neighbourhood. However, as we pointed out in our 3 March 2023 HAHK, the Adani Group has disturbing connections with Chinese nationals such as the Adani family confidant Chang Chung-Ling (aka Lingo-Chang) who has been involved, among other things, in violating UN sanctions against China and Pakistan’s ally North Korea. How is steering strategically-important contracts towards cronies with opaque business connections in China at all in the national interest? Are these connections not worthy of investigation by your ordinarily hyperactive investigative agencies?
(3) Your hectic lobbying for your cronies has also extended to a 500 megawatt wind power project in Sri Lanka’s Mannar district. The former head of the Ceylon Electricity Board, MMC Ferdinando, testified on 10 June 2022 before the Parliament of Sri Lanka that on 24 October 2021 “the President [Gotabaya Rajapaksa] summoned me after a meeting and said that India’s Prime Minister Modi is pressuring him to hand over the project to the Adani Group.” Although he retracted these comments under pressure, Mr Ferdinando’s comments completely exposed the nexus of crony capitalism in which you are enmeshed. Are you under the impression that your main job is to secure contracts for your friend Gautam Adani, in India and outside, rather than work for the people of India?
Read about previous questions here…