After a complete washout of the parliament session, one of the country’s senior most opposition voices has shredded the obsessive demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe that stalled all business in the country’s most important legislative body. Sharad Pawar, the chief of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and one of the country’s tallest politicians, has also come out strongly in support of the Adani Group and has criticized the narrative around US short-seller Hindenburg’s report.
“Such statements were given by other individuals too earlier and there was a ruckus in parliament for a few days but this time out of proportion importance was given to the issue. The issues that were kept, who kept them, we had never heard of these people who gave the statement, what is the background. When they raise issues that cause a ruckus across the country, the cost is borne by the country’s economy, we cannot disregard these things. It seems this was targeted,” Mr Pawar told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
“An individual industrial group of the country was targeted, that is what it seems. If they have done anything wrong, there should be an inquiry.”
Referring to the Congress’s single-point demand for a JPC probe into the Hindenburg report, Mr Pawar candidly said he had a different viewpoint from his Maharashtra ally.
After the demand was raised, he said, the Supreme Court set up a probe and appointed a committee with a retired Supreme Court judge, an expert, an administrator, and an economist. They were given guidelines and a timeframe and told to conduct an inquiry.
“On the other hand, the opposition wanted a parliamentary committee to be appointed. If a parliamentary committee is appointed, then monitoring is with the ruling party. The demand was against the ruling party, and if the committee appointed for an inquiry has a ruling party majority, then how will the truth come out is a valid concern. If the Supreme Court, who no one can influence, if they were to conduct the inquiry, then there was a better chance of the truth coming to light. So, after the Supreme Court announced an inquiry, there was no significance of a JPC probe. It was not needed.”
What did he believe was the Congress’s intent behind pushing for a JPC probe?
“I cannot say what the intent was but I know that a committee appointed by judges of the Supreme Court was very important, this is what I know. Maybe the reasoning could have been that once a JPC starts, its proceedings are reported in the media on a daily basis. Perhaps someone would have wanted the issue to fester for two to four months, but the truth would never have come out.”
Mr Pawar made it clear he did not agree with Rahul Gandhi’s “Adani-Ambani” style of targeting of big business houses. It was quite meaningless, he remarked, referring to the “Tata-Birla” narrative of the past.
“This has been happening in this country for many years. I remember many years ago that when we came into politics, if we had to speak against the government, we used to speak against Tata-Birla. Who was the target? Tata-Birla. When we understood the contribution of Tata, we used to wonder why we kept on saying Tata Birla. But one had to target someone so we used to target Tata-Birla. Today the name of Tata-Birla is not at the forefront, different Tata-Birla’s have come before the government. So these days if you have to attack the government, the name of Ambani and Adani is taken. The question is, that the people you are targeting, if they have done something wrong, misused their powers, then in a democracy you have a right to speak against them 100 per cent, but to attack without anything meaningful, this I cannot understand.”
Mr Pawar continued: “Today, Ambani has contributed in the petrochemical sector, does the country not need it? In the field of electricity, Adani has contributed. Does the country not need electricity? These are people who take up such responsibility and work for the name of the country. If they have done wrong, you attack, but they have created this infrastructure, to criticise them does not feel right to me.”
In an oblique reference to the Congress and its protests focused on a JPC probe, Mr Pawar said, “There can be different viewpoints, criticism, one has the right to speak strongly about the policies of the government, but a discussion should take place. A discussion and dialogue is very important in any democracy, if you ignore discussion and dialogue the system will fall into danger, it will just perish.”
To ignore the issues of the common people regularly is not right, Mr Pawar said. “When this happens, we are following the wrong path. This is what we need to understand.”
Mr Pawar refused to blame only the Congress, pointing out that other opposition parties shared the demand. But the effort to find a solution was missing from both the opposition and the government, he observed.
“It is everyone’s responsibility that there is conflict in parliament… and ok, the session will not run that day, but to get the house to run the next day, whether you sit in the evening or the next day, there must be an effort to find a solution. This process of dialogue is absent these days.”
(Disclaimer: New Delhi Television is a subsidiary of AMG Media Networks Limited, an Adani Group Company.)