New Delhi: Embattled Adani Group on Monday latched on to a complaint by a BJP MP to make its first direct attack on TMC lawmaker Mahua Moitra, who has been at the forefront of criticising the conglomerate ever since Hindenburg alleged fraud, saying groups and individuals have been working overtime to harm its name and market standing.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey on Sunday wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla alleging that Trinamool Congress MP took bribes for raising questions in Parliament to “protect the interest of a business group.” Dubey had claimed advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai had “shared irrefutable evidence of bribes exchanged” between Moitra and Darshan Hiranandani.
In a statement, Adani Group referred to Dubey’s complaint without referring to him by name but said a Dehadrai has “filed a complaint with the CBI in the form of a sworn affidavit bringing on record the ‘commission of an elaborate criminal conspiracy by Mahua Moitra and Darshan Hiranandani, CEO of Hiranandani Group for specifically targeting Gautam Adani and his group of companies through parliamentary questions.” “He has further stated that, as a quid pro quo, Ms. Moitra received bribes and undue favours from Hiranandani,” the statement said.
Dehadrai, who is said to be estranged partner of Moitra, has a bitter feud running with the TMC leader over the custody of their pet dog. Moitra had filed multiple police complaints against him in the last six months for alleged criminal trespass, theft, vulgar messages and abuse.
In Parliament and outside, Moitra had been making allegations against the Adani Group for last couple of years.
After US short seller Hindenburg Research in January came out with a damning report alleging financial fraud and stock manipulation at Adani Group, she has been perhaps the most vocal individual Parliamentarian of the conglomerate helmed by billionaire Gautam Adani.
The group has denied all allegations.
Adani Group, which had so far not made any direct attack on Moitra, in the statement referred to the complaints by Dubey and Dehadrai to say that they “corroborate” the conglomerate’s previous statements that “some groups and individuals have been working overtime to harm our name, goodwill and market standing.”
“In this particular case, the lawyer’s complaint reveals that this arrangement to besmirch the reputation and interests of the Adani Group and our Chairman Gautam Adani has been in place since 2018,” the statement said without elaborating.
Responding to the charge, the Hiranandani group denied the allegations saying they have “no merit.”
“We have always been in the business of business and not in the business of politics. Our group has always worked with the government in there interest of the nation and will continue doing so,” a spokesperson of the Hiranandani group said.
Adani Group referred to its statement of last week where it had stated that “some foreign entities like the OCCRP, supported by a section of the foreign media, short-sellers and domestic collaborators, have launched a series of attacks against the Adani Group with the primary intent of dragging down its market value.”
“In fact, these individuals and groups, bound by the common objective of damaging the Adani Group, have developed a playbook which is being executed to perfection by a well-oiled and professional machinery working in sync both within India and abroad,” it said adding “one (of the) tactic in their playbook” was to put out media reports recycling “baseless allegations” ahead of the hearing of an Adani-related case in the Supreme Court.
After writing to the Lok Sabha Speaker on Sunday, Dubey, whom Moitra had previously charged with using a “fake” degree, wrote to the Telecom and Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, urging him to investigate the IP addresses of her log-in credentials for the House.
Responding to Dubey’s letter, Moitra said, “all parliamentary work of MPs is done by PAs, assistants, interns and large teams”, and requested Vaishnaw to release the details of the locations and log-in credentials of all the MPs with Call Data Records (CDRs). She also asked the information technology minister to release information on the training given to the staff to log in.
On Sunday, she said, “Am using all my ill-gotten cash & gifts to buy a college/ university in which Degree Dubey can finally buy a real degree. Please @ombirlakota @loksabhaspeaker finish the enquiries against him for false affidavits & then set up my enquiry committee.”
“If Adani group is relying on dodgy dossier created by dubious Sanghis & circulated by fake degree wallahs to either shut me up or bring me down I would advise them not to waste their time. Use your lawyers wisely,” she had said in a series of posts on ‘X’.
She had gone on to state that she welcomes a CBI enquity into her “alleged money laundering right after they finish investigating Adani’s offshore money trail, over invoicing, benami accounts.”
“Adani may use BJP agencies to browbeat competition & buy airports but just try doing it with me,” she said. “Multiple breach of privileges pending against fake degreewala & other @BJP4India luminaries. Welcome any motions against me right after Speaker finishes dealing with those. Also waiting for @dir_ed & others to file FIR in Adani coal scam before coming to my doorstep.”
In the letter to Vaishnaw, Dubey urged him to take the allegations against Moitra with “utmost seriousness” and initiate an investigation to ascertain the IP addresses of all log-in credentials of the TMC leader’s Lok Sabha account and determine whether there were any instances in which her account was accessed at a location where she was not present.
“The alleged sharing of Smt. Moitra’s Lok Sabha credentials with an external entity poses a direct threat to national security,” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said.
Dubey also said the allegation that the Krishnanagar MP gave Darshan Hiranandani and the Hiranandani conglomerate access to her log-in credentials for the Lok Sabha website so that they could utilise it for their own personal gain “is possibly the most damning and grave of all the charges that are being made against her”.
“If the claims made above are found to be accurate, this constitutes a serious criminal breach of trust as well as a violation of India’s national security because it would give unauthorised individuals access to government websites that may contain classified information,” he said.
Dubey urged the minister to determine whether there were any instances in which Moitra’s Lok Sabha account was accessed at a location where she was not present.
Meanwhile, reacting to the allegations, Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology Rajeev Chandrashekhar, said, “If true, this is indeed shocking and shameful.”
“It is true that this company was actively and aggressively lobbying for data localisation. Language used in PQ is very similar (linking need for data localisation to data breaches) to that used when the head of this company met me. “I am not aware or privy to the full facts or background on this — but if it is true, then it’s a terrible travesty and misuse of PQs (Parliament Questions),” he said in a post on X.