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March 28, 2023
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Budget Week 2023: BRS call for ‘Adani Act’, Spotlight on accusations of Crony Capitalism

BRS calls for Adani Act

Budget Week 2023: The Jubiliance around a well-rounded budget didn’t last long as the initial market cheer in response to finance minister Sitharaman’s Budget got diluted by the overhanging question of Adani-Hindenburg. Indian financial markets were overwhelmed by the uncertainty around the country’s biggest growth story of the past decade- Adani Enterprises, in an unexpected turn of events, the markets shrugged off huge gains of the morning session on the budget day,i.e, February 1st, and closed 350 points down from the day’s high.

BRS leaders call for ‘Adani Act’

The drama around the Budget 2023 unfolded even before the finance minister presented her budget in the Lok Sabha. Bharat Rashtra Samiti of Telenagana’s CM KCR along with his Delhi counterpart Arvid Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party had boycotted the Presidential address of the joint session before the 2023 budget session on January 31st.

K. Keshav Rao of the BRS party addressed a press conference shortly after the conclusion of President Murmu’s speech on 31st January. Adding fuel to the fire, Mr. Keshava Rao demanded that the President should call for the ‘Adani Act’ and recommend PM Modi enact it to check the growing problem of ‘Crony Capitalism’ in the country. Explaining their decision to boycott the presidential address before the budget day, Mr. Rao of the BRS party said that it is their duty to stage such a protest against the failures of BJP led government in addressing rising inflation and unemployment in the country.

‘Crony Capitalism’: In the context of Adani-Hindenberg

This is not the first time that the BJP is facing accusations of enabling ‘Cronies’ to amass huge wealth through various instruments such as winning big government contracts, projects, special treatment, etc. In 2021, Congress leader Kapila Sibal launched a full-scale attack on the growing problem of ‘Crony Capitalism’ in the country. Unlike Mr. Keshav Rao’s stunt, Kapil Sibal did this in the upper house of the parliament. While taking a dig at Modi-Sitharaman’s Atmanirbhar Bharat Budget, Mr. Sibal directly accused BJP of allowing 4-5 big boys to own all asset creation in their government.

“In 2018 1% of the people owned 58% of the assets in India. In 2019 1% of the people of this country owned 73% of the total assets in India” – Excerpt from Kapil Sibal’s Speech in 2021

Crony Capitalism is defined as an economic situation where individuals who are close to government officials and leaders gain an advantage over other competitors in the market and use it for their personal growth. Crony Capitalism can result in the rise of monopolies and oligarchies within an economic system.

While the recent Adani Hindenberg issue is rekindling the accusations of Crony Capitalism in India, these accusations are not new and have been part of the popular criticism against the BJP leadership. Financial Times in November 2020 released a detailed report on this topic with the title ‘Modi’s Reckefeller’: Gautam Adani and the concentration of power in India. The full report can be accessed here

Here, the Financial Times tried to put the spotlight on how the BJP had removed the restrictions on some eligibility criteria to operate airports in India. Relaxation of the said criteria resulted in Adani winning the bids for operating 6 Airports in India, making Adani the biggest airport operator in the country. Then India’s aviation minister rejected the accusations saying that it was an open bidding process carried out in a ‘transparent manner’. All said and done, prior to this, the Adani group had no experience in operating airports.

Why BRS is pulling the ‘Crony Capitalism’ strings again?

The accusations of Corny Capitalism in the context of Mr.Adani’s growth remain accusations. While there are many such critics who believe that the growth of Adani can be directly attributed to his close relationship with PM Modi, and it is part of the BJP’s plan to build homegrown billionaires to fuel economic growth, there is no actionable data to prove any wrongdoing.

Schadenfreude at play

Schadenfreude refers to a psychological phenomenon of deriving pleasure from someone else’s misfortune. In this context, it would be the magnitude of the fall in Adani company stocks. As of February 2, the flagship company of Adani, Adani Enterprises has seen a decline of more than 50% from the price before the release of the Hindenburg report. The use of the schadenfreude term is not to say that people are enjoying the fall of Adani, it is to emphasize the importance of the issue, even among the general people of the country who have never invested a single penny in Adani stocks. The overarching impact of the fall of Adani stocks has reached every nook and corner of the country. It has become a topic that everyone wants to discuss and feel involved as part of something bigger.

It is this jubilance that BRS is trying to encash, as K. Chandrashekar Rao of the BRS party launches a strategic political attack against BJP as part of his national expansion plan, Adani issue has become an irresistible arsenal that BRS can’t simply let go of to tackle the BJP in the center. Hence the staging of the protest in parliament and calling for the ‘Adani Act’




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