Parliament was adjourned for the day on Thursday after the Opposition stalled proceedings in both houses, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) or a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the allegations of fraud and manipulation against billionaire Gautam Adani's companies that have triggered an unprecedented stock crash.
A united opposition, led by the Congress, raised the issue as soon as the houses commenced for the day with their MPs giving adjournment notices for a discussion on the issue.
The chair in both the upper and lower house rejected the notices, prompting opposition leaders to question the presiding officers on procedures and asking what could be more serious than demanding a discussion involving hard-earned money of Indians in LIC and SBI invested in the Adani group stocks.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla denied the request for discussion, asking members to 'not to make unsubstantiated claims' while Rajya Sabha chairperson, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, rejected notices, saying they were 'not in order'.
Adani Group stocks have taken a beating on the bourses after the United States short-seller Hindenburg Research made a litany of allegations last week in its report, including fraudulent transactions and share price manipulation at the Gautam Adani-led group, which has denied the charges.
The market losses of the Adani Group have risen to nearly $103 billion (about Rs 8.5 lakh crore).
Congress president and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge led the charge in the upper house, with nine MPs of various parties giving notices under rule 267 seeking suspension of the day's business to discuss the Adani-Hindenburg issue.
In the Lok Sabha too, the opposition MPs stormed the well forcing adjournment within minutes of the house meeting and then again soon after lunch.
Leaders of several parties including the Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Trinamool Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Janata Dal-United, the Shiv Sena, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the Communist Party of India, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Indian Union Muslim League, the National Conference, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Kerala Congress, earlier held a meeting in the morning in Kharge's chamber in the Parliament, where they strategised their plan.
Kharge told reporters that the opposition parties have also called for day-to-day reporting of the JPC or the SC-monitored probe into the issue as it concerned public money invested in Adani stocks which have taken a beating on the markets ever since the Hindenburg charges came out.
"Keeping public interest in mind, we want a thorough probe into the Adani issue either by the JPC or the Supreme Court-monitored probe. There should also be day-to-day reporting of the investigation on the issue," Kharge said.
The Adani group has denied all charges and called the report malicious and full of lies and termed it a 'calculated attack' on India, its institutions and its growth story.
It said the report was driven by 'an ulterior motive' to 'create a false market' to allow the US firm to make financial gains.
Hindenburg has rejected Adani's charge and has stood by the allegations made in the research report.
Tweeting on the issue, Congress General Secretary in-charge Communications Jairam Ramesh said, 'the Adani issue does certainly warrant an investigation by SEBI & RBI. Whether that will be truly independent is a separate matter given the special relationship Mr. A shares with the ruling regime - which could be dubbed as a Narendradani one.'
He also said, 'Modi Sarkar is clearly cornered on the Adani issue. It does not want it even mentioned in Parliament. Hence both Houses adjourned for the day a few minutes after 2 pm without even giving Opposition a chance to demand a JPC into this MahaMegaScam.'
The Opposition protest came a day after Adani Enterprises recalled its full-subscribed Rs 20,000-crore Follow-on Public Offer (FPO) and said it will return the proceeds to investors.
Opposition parties also targeted the government over the issue and asked why it was silent on the allegations and why no investigation has been ordered so far.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that the BJP was using people's money deposited with the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and nationalised banks to benefit some of its party leaders.
"The share market witnessed a massive crash after the Union budget was presented. Telephone calls were made to some people asking them to pump in several thousand crores of rupees," Banerjee said at a function in Purba Bardhaman district.
Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav claimed people are panicking as their money has been invested in public sector banks and institutions which have lended to Adani.
"People thronging public sector banks are being asked to go back... people thought their money is safe in public sector banks and institutions," he said.
Keshav Rao of the Bharat Rashtra Samiti (BRS) said nine parties had given adjournment notices in Rajya Sabha, but the chairman said the notices were not in order.
There is no proforma as far adjournment notices are concerned, he noted.
"In the absence of a proforma, you cannot teach us. What is a bigger or more serious issue than this? This is a matter of socialisation of losses," he said.
TMC's Shantanu Sen said the opposition's demand for a discussion on the matter under Rule 267 is rational and should be allowed.
Rule 267 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook allows for the suspension of a day's business to debate the issue suggested by a Member.
CPM leader Elamaram Kareem alleged that industrialist Gautam Adani and his company have looted the country.
"LIC and SBI money is on the line under government patronage. This is a major scandal and a burning issue for the common people and warrants an investigation," he said.
AAP MP Sanjay Singh asked, "Why is the government silent on this mega scandal? Adani is the kingpin on whose money the BJP works."
Shiv Sena's (Thackeray) Priyanka Chaturvedi and DMK leader Kanimozhi were also present at the opposition meeting and asked why the government was not ready for a thorough investigation.
Kharge has alleged that whenever opposition leaders give notices, they are not accepted by the chair, asserting that this is the reason all opposition parties jointly decided to raise the issue on Thursday.
"That is why, we decided to raise the (Adani) issue in one voice in the House as crores of money of common people is invested in Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), and public money in banks is being given to such companies against whom foreign agencies have come out with charges of irregularities," he said
Congress' Pawan Khera said, "We are not against any particular Indian corporate house, we are against crony capitalism. When the rules are changed to benefit selected billionaires, we are against it."
He alleged that 'Hum Do Hamare Do' of 'Mitra Kaal' are brazenly selling the 'Family Silver' of the nation.