‘Did Modi pressure Hasina to accept Adani deal?’
Indian National Congress yesterday asked the country's government if Prime Minister Narendra Modi had "put pressure on his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina to accept terms that were extremely favourable to Adani Power and unfavourable to Bangladesh" in the agreement for power purchase from a plant in Godda, Jharkhand.
In a campaign by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh "Hum Adani Ke Hai Kaun", the opposition party has raised questions on Modi's alleged "misuse" of foreign policy.
The three questions released yesterday by the party asked if Modi used his influence on Bangladesh.
The party said the Congress-led UPA government had signed an MoU in 2010 for the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation to set up a 1,320MW power plant in Bagerhat.
Congress alleged that after assuming power, the BJP announced that Adani Power and Reliance Power (Ambani) would construct power plants to supply electricity to Bangladesh.
"Is it true that you put pressure on your counterpart PM Sheikh Hasina to accept terms that were extremely favourable to Adani Power and unfavourable to Bangladesh, and that the cost of electricity supplied to Bangladesh from Adani's Godda [Jharkhand] power plant is much higher than what its own thermal plants supply? Does enriching your friends at the expense of neighbouring countries further India's foreign policy interests?" the party asked in the first question.
In its second question, the Congress aimed its gun on Adani's power plant in Jharkhand.
The party claimed that Jharkhand, in 2016, required 25 percent of the electricity produced by a power plant to be supplied to the state at discounted rates. This was reflected in its initial February 2016 agreement with Adani Power.
"However, in October 2016, the policy was abruptly amended to benefit Adani," the party said.
Is it correct that these revised terms will cost Jharkhand money over the 25-year lifetime of the project? Did the office of the state accountant general say that the agreement with Adani amounted to "preferential treatment" and would give the company "undue benefits"? it asked.
"What was your role in persuading the then Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das of BJP to reverse this longstanding state government policy?" read the party's second question.
The Congress alleged that in February 2018, Adani Power had applied to set up the plant as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to avail benefits. The party said the ministry of commerce had, however, declined this request because it conflicted with guidelines that prohibited the establishment of a standalone power plant inside an SEZ.
Next year, the Congress said the ministry changed its view and amended the said guidelines on January 9, 2019. Thereafter, on February 25 the same year, the Board of Approval for SEZs approved Adani Power's application.
"What was the role of the Prime Minister's Office in this policy change that benefitted Adani Power to the tune of Rs 300 crore per year via the elimination of coal import duties?" the Congress asked in its third question.
The official spokesman of India's External Affairs Ministry Arindam Bagchi had recently sought to distance the government from the Adani Power and Bangladesh deal saying, "We are not even involved in it."