Billionaire philanthropist George Soros believes the turmoil at Gautam Adani’s business empire may weaken Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hold on the government – a statement which was strongly countered by BJP as an attack on Indian democracy.
Adani group has been under severe pressure since the US short-seller Hindenburg Research on January 24, accused it of accounting fraud and stock manipulation, allegations that the conglomerate has denied as “malicious”, “baseless” and a “calculated attack on India”. While listed companies of the group lost over USD 125 billion in market value in three weeks, opposition parties inside and outside Parliament attacked the BJP government for the meteoric rise of the ports-to-energy conglomerate. Stocks of most group firms have risen in the last couple of days.
Soros, in a speech at the Munich Security Conference on Thursday, said Modi would “have to answer questions” from foreign investors and Parliament on allegations the Adani group is facing.
His speech drew sharp reactions. Ruling BJP said Soros was not only targeting the Prime Minister but also the Indian democratic system.
This war is being mounted against India and what stands between the war and India’s interests is Modi, BJP leader and Union minister Smriti Irani told reporters. “Everyone should condemn his remarks in one voice”.
She alleged that Soros wants to destroy Indian democracy and wanted some “hand-picked” people to run the government here. He has created a fund of over USD one billion to intervene in democratic systems, including in India, she claimed.
Soros in his speech said the turmoil at Adani may open the door to a democratic revival in the country.
His near 42-minute speech oscillated between climate change, Russia-Ukraine war, rumbling in the US, Turkey disaster and failures in China.
“Modi and business tycoon Adani are close allies; their fate is intertwined,” he claimed. “Adani is accused of stock manipulation and his stock collapsed like a house of cards. Modi is silent on the subject, but he will have to answer questions from foreign investors and in Parliament.”
He did not offer any evidence for his claim.
“This will significantly weaken Modi’s stranglehold on India’s federal government and open the door to push for much needed institutional reforms,” he said. “I may be naïve, but I expect a democratic revival in India.”
His comments drew sharp reaction from the ruling establishment.
Kanchan Gupta, senior adviser to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said the faces behind repeated regime change stands exposed.
“Face behind repeated ‘regime change’ attempts in India with collaborators paid by The Open Society Foundations stands exposed. India’s enemies are many: George Soros leads the pack.
Democracy in India is strong, resilient. 2024 is not too far away and Soros will eat crow again,” he tweeted, attaching news of Soros’ comments.
Gupta went on to state that the Munich Security Conference (MSS) was a platform for discussing global security challenges and seeking paths to peace and stability, not conflict.
“Soros being given a platform to share his subversive ‘regime change’ agenda to undermine India tells a different story about MSS,” he said.
The 92-year-old investor started his speech at the conference talking of understanding the current state of affairs and finding a way to distinguish what is important from what is less so.
“Let me start with a bold assertion. While two systems of governance are engaged in a fight for global domination, our civilization is in danger of collapsing because of the inexorable advance of climate change.
“This is a very succinct statement, but I believe it provides an accurate summary of the current state of affairs,” he said, devoting a good deal of his speech on climate change.
He then stated that as the founder of Open Society Foundation, he considers open societies “morally superior” to closed ones.
At this point, he talks of repressive states and distinguishes between open and closed societies.
“India is an interesting case. It’s a democracy, but its leader Narendra Modi is no democrat,” he claimed.
Modi, he said, maintains close relations with both open and closed societies.
“India is a member of the Quad (which also includes Australia, the US, and Japan), but it buys a lot of Russian oil at a steep discount and makes a lot of money on it,” he said before turning to Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
“Erdogan has much in common with Modi,” he said. “But, while Modi seemed to be firmly in the saddle until recently, Erdogan has mismanaged the Turkish economy and will face elections in May. All his efforts are focused on winning the elections.”
Soros targeting Indian democratic system, wants ‘hand-picked’ govt: BJP
The BJP on Friday launched a frontal attack on billionaire investor George Soros, accusing him of not only targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi but also the Indian democratic system so that people “hand-picked” by him get to run the government here.
Soros, who has been associated with various causes, has said the turmoil engulfing Gautam Adani’s business empire that has “shaken” the faith in India as an investment opportunity may open the door to a “democratic revival” in the country. He also alleged that PM Modi is not a democrat.
As the BJP seized on his remarks with Union minister Smriti Irani telling a press conference that a war is being mounted against India and what stands between the war and India’s interests is Modi, the Congress said whether the Adani issue sparks a democratic revival depends entirely on the opposition parties and has nothing to do with Soros.
While Irani made no direct reference to the Congress, some BJP spokespersons, including Shehzad Poonawalla and R P Singh, questioned the party’s links with Soros. Has Rahul Gandhi ever met Soros, Singh asked.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra posted an image insinuating Gandhi being controlled by Soros and said both have the same goal of “conspiring” to defame India, its democratic system and Modi. Some party leaders flagged old tweets of Congress members, including Shashi Tharoor, praising Soros as an “old friend” and “concerned world citizen”.
Irani suggested that critics like Soros have begun attacking the country after it emerged as the fifth largest economy.
The public expression of praise for Modi from the US and French presidents and the British prime minister have rattled them as they want a “weak” India and a “weak” government here, she claimed. “India has defeated imperialistic designs earlier too and will do so again,” she asserted.
Soros has announced his intention to destroy Indian democracy so that people hand-picked by him run the government here, she alleged. Designs to weaken Indian democracy will be met with the might of India under PM Modi’s leadership, she said.
Calling for everyone to speak in one voice against Soros, she said any political organisation that seeks to serve India’s interests will stand in solidarity with the country and against the investor.
“Any political organisation which matches steps with George Soros will stand exposed in front of the electorate,” she said, adding that protecting India’s interests is an issue on which a political party cannot have differences with another.
Irani, though, added that Soros wants a government which is pliable to his needs is more than “evident” from his statements.
In the opposition party’s reaction, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh added that India’s Nehruvian legacy ensures people like Soros cannot determine its electoral outcomes.
Targeting Soros, Irani said, “He wants a government that is pliable to his needs for making his nefarious plans successful. It is evident from his statements that he has declared funding of over one billion dollars particularly to ‘target’ leaders like PM Modi, which is significant,” she said.
Soros had announced that he will target India’s democratic system and Modi will be at the centre of his attack, she said, adding he wants an order in the country which will protect his, and not India’s, interests.
Those who receive funding from him should get this message that India under Modi will not bow its head and continue to march ahead.
“Notably, at a time when India rises to become the fifth largest economy in the world and when India receives public gratitude by global leaders like presidents of the USA and France, and the PM of England for enabling employment not only in India but also in these three nations, the imperialistic intentions of an entrepreneur are coming to light,” Irani said.
She accused him of seeking to demonise Indian democracy and launching an onslaught on its economy for personal gains, and urged every person, organisation and society to denounce the intention of this “individual who is seeking to weaken our democratic interests for his personal gains”.
To a question, the Union minister said Soros’s statements should not be merely seen as an attempt to tarnish Modi’s image as he is also talking about changing the government.
In his remarks at the Munich Security Conference, Soros (92) had said, “Adani Enterprises tried to raise funds in the stock market, but he failed. Adani is accused of stock manipulation and his stock collapsed like a house of cards. Modi is silent on the subject, but he will have to answer questions from foreign investors and in Parliament.”
“This will significantly weaken Modi’s stranglehold on India’s federal government and open the door to push for much needed institutional reforms,” he said.
The Adani Group has been under severe pressure since the US short-seller Hindenburg Research on January 24 accused it of accounting fraud and stock manipulation, allegations that the conglomerate has denied as “malicious”, “baseless” and a “calculated attack on India”.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi took a swipe at the BJP over its sharp comments over the issue.
“Our Indian billionaires have opinions on other nations too. Thankfully those nations don’t have troll mantris doing a press conference to scream threat to democracy or nation.”
The bigger threat to Indian democracy is foreign agency interfering in electoral process through disinformation campaigns, muzzling media freedom, undermining independent agencies and attacking the judiciary, she said.
In a dig at Irani, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra said, “Every Indian urged by Hon’ble Cabinet Minister to give fitting reply to George Soros. Please bang your thalis at 6 pm sharp today.”
In her remarks, Irani said Soros broke the back of the Bank of England and claimed that he is designated as an “economic war criminal”.
“He has now pronounced his desire to break the Indian democracy. You all know George Soros is an international entrepreneur who hedges bets against many countries and has now declared his ill-intention to intervene in the democratic process of india,” she said.
Under the Modi government, India became “pharmacy of the world” during the Covid outbreak and has ensured food security of over 800 million people. The recent budget has the highest allocation for defence and the prime minister has laid the foundation for the country’s future which will not only realise people’s dreams but ensure a resilient and stronger economy as well, she said.