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George Soros remarks: Congress slams govt, careful not to be seen as too approving of the financier

Officially, the party argued that democratic revival in India depends on the Opposition parties and the electoral process, and that people like Soros cannot determine India’s electoral outcomes.

“Whether the Prime Minister-linked Adani scam sparks a democratic revival in India depends entirely on the Congress, the Opposition and our electoral process. It has nothing to do with George Soros. Our Nehruvian legacy ensures people like Soros cannot determine our electoral outcomes,” Congress communications head Jairam Ramesh said.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram agreed, but added that to call Soros’s remarks an attempt to “topple the democratically elected government in India” is a “puerile statement”. “I did not agree with most of what George Soros had said in the past and I do not agree with most of what he says now. But to label his remarks as an ‘attempt to topple the democratically elected government in India’ is a puerile statement. The people of India will determine who will be in and who will be out of the government of India,” Chidambaram said.

Taking a dig at the government, he added: “I did not know that the Modi government was so feeble that it can be toppled by the stray statement of a 92-year-old rich foreign national.” Further, he argued that instead of Soros, the government should listen to economist Nouriel Roubini. “Roubini warned that India is ‘increasingly driven by large private conglomerates that can potentially hamper competition and kill new entrants’. Liberalisation was to usher in an open, competitive economy. The Modi government’s policies have created oligopolies,” Chidambaram said.

Speaking at The Economic Times’s Global Business Summit, Roubini — Professor of Economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business — said Friday that the growth of India is becoming increasingly driven by national champions that are large, private conglomerates which, on the one hand, might be seen as a positive because they are productive, efficient and competitive, but eventually can potentially hamper competition, kill new entrants and startups.

Hitting out at Soros, Union Minister Smriti Irani had said on Friday that he had “ill-intention to intervene in the democratic process of India and wanted a government that is pliable to his need”.

Youth Congress president Srinivas B V was more forthright in criticising the government over Soros’s remarks, tweeting a video clip of same, and saying: “Billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros calls Modi-Adani close allies, and says their fates are intertwined! Now even the world is calling Modi-Adani Bhai-Bhai!”

Praveen Chakravarty, the head of the Congress’s data analytics department, too, tweeted a news report on Soros, quoting him as having said that “Modi may dodge answering questions about Adani in Parliament and in India, but he cannot escape from foreign investors.”

Jairam Ramesh, meanwhile, continued to attack the government over the Adani affair. He has been posing three questions to the government every day for the last two weeks.

“Is it true that a high-profile Union Minister with longstanding commercial links made personal calls to five-six of the most well-known businesspersons on behalf of Gautam Adani and asked them to invest their personal funds in the FPO to save Gautam Bhai from embarrassment? Does this not represent a conflict of interest worth investigating? Did this Union Minister act on instructions from you?” he asked of the Prime Minister today.

“Did the family offices that were pressured to bail out the Adani FPO given assurances that this was only to save Gautam Adani’s reputation and that the FPO would be subsequently cancelled and the money returned to the investors? Is it not a violation of Indian securities regulations to hide this relevant information from most investors and only to share it with a select few? Is it ethical to dupe FPO investors in this way?” he asked.

Pointing out that among the anchor investors in the Adani Enterprises FPO were the Life Insurance Corporation of India, State Bank of India Employees’ Pension Fund and SBI Life Insurance Company, he said “these publicly-owned institutions participated in the FPO, despite the fact that the market price had dropped far below the issue price and that both LIC and SBI already owned large chunks of Adani Group equity” and asked “were instructions issued to LIC and SBI to deploy the savings of crores of Indians to once again bail out the Adani Group?”

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