NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party accused billionaire financier-philanthropist George Soros of trying to undermine India’s democracy on Friday by predicting that the Adani group’s woes would loosen the Hindu nationalist leader’s grip on power.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Thursday, 92-year-old Soros said Modi and business tycoon Adani are close allies; their fate is intertwined and the conglomerate’s troubles would significantly weaken Modi’s stranglehold on India’s federal government and open the door to push for much needed institutional reforms , the Financial Times reported.
The seven listed companies of the apples-to-airports Adani group have together lost about $120 billion in market value since a January 24 report by Hindenburg Research alleged the conglomerate improperly used offshore tax havens and manipulated stock, and flagged concerns over its high debt levels.
“A foreign power at the centre of which is a man named George Soros has announced that he will hurt India’s democratic structure. He has announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be his main target. He has also announced that he will help build a system in India that will protect his interests, not India’s” Smriti Irani, the federal minister for women and child development, told reporters at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office.
“This is not just an attempt to hurt India’s image, if you listen to him carefully, he talks of regime change,” she said.
India has always defeated foreign powers whenever it was challenged and will continue to defeat them in the future too.” Modi has not referred to Adani by name since the crisis triggered by the Hindenburg report but last week he told parliament that the “blessings of 1.4 billion people in the country are my protective cover and you can’t destroy it with lies and abuses”, as opposition lawmakers chanted “Adani, Adani”.
“It is evident from his statements that he has pronounced funding over one billion dollars to target leaders like PM Modi. This is significant,” The Minister said during the conference.
She said, “Those who support Soros need to know that democracy has prevailed in India and continues to do so and as a party worker of the BJP, I can say that these designs to weaken Indian democracy will be met by the might of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Soros has weighed in on the ongoing Adani-Hindenburg row stating that Modi is “silent” on the issue and will have to “answer questions from foreign investors and in parliament.”
Soros said that Adani is “accused of stock manipulation and his stock collapsed like a house of cards.”
“Adani Enterprises tried to raise funds in the stock market but failed,” Soros said.
Adani Group has been accused by US shortseller Hindenburg of engaging in “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud” over decades, a claim that Adani Group has stoutly denied.
Terming Modi and Adani as “close allies,” whose “fate is intertwined”, the billionaire investor said, “This will significantly weaken Modi’s stranglehold on India’s federal government and open the door to push for much-needed institutional reforms.”
“I may be naive, but I expect a democratic revival in India,” Soros said in his remarks delivered at the 2023 Munich Security Conference.