Addressing a prepoll rally in Karimnagar, Telangana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 8 claimed that since elections had been announced, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was unusually silent about industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, against whom he would regularly launch tirades in the past.

25.50-minute onward in the speech, Modi stated, “You may have noticed, for the last five years, the Shehzada of Congress has been harping on the same string every morning as soon as he gets up. Ever since the Rafale case was grounded, he started harping on it. For five years, he has been harping on it. Five industrialists, five industrialists, five industrialists… Then slowly, he started saying Ambani-Adani, Ambani-Adani, Ambani-Adani, for five years. But ever since the elections were declared, he stopped abusing Ambani-Adani. Today, from Telangana, I want to ask him.. the Shehzada should announce how much money (maal) he has taken from Ambani-Adani. How many sacks of black money have gone to him? Have they sent tempos filled with notes to Congress? What deal have they struck? You have stopped abusing Ambani-Adani overnight. There must be something fishy. For five years, he abused Ambani-Adani, and overnight the abuses stopped! That means you have received looted amounts (chori ka maal) filled in trucks. You have to answer the nation.”

A part of the statement was also highlighted on Prime Minister Modi’s official website.

Fact Check

A simple key word search with date filter reveals that Rahul Gandhi has attacked the BJP and Narendra Modi’s associations with the two industrialists, Reliance chief Mukesh Ambani and Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani, several times in his campaign speeches in the recent past. Here are a few instances:

May 7, Konbir, Jharkhand

Rahul Gandhi delivered a speech at the NHPC Ground in Jharkhand’s Konbir in Lohardaga Lok Sabha area in support of Congress candidates Kalicharan Munda (Khunti) and Sukhdeo Bhagat (Lohardaga), where he alleged that the BJP wanted to hand over forest land of the tribal people to Ambani and Adani.

10-minute onward in the above video, Gandhi states, “BJP says you are forest dwellers (vanvasi) and they would give the entire forest to Adani. 24 hours a day, they keep handing over forest land to Adani… Whatever they do, they do it for the billionaires. They have 22-25 friends like Adani, Ambani. All the work are done for them. Land for them, forest for them, media for them, infrastructure for them, roads for them, bridges for them, petrol for them, everything for them. Earlier, there used to be public sector where tribals, Dalits, backward classes had their reservation. Everything is now being privatized… the public sector is your asset… roads, railways are your assets, not Adani’s. Everything is being handed over to them. You tell me, these mediapersons who are standing here.. do they talk about you? They will never do that. They are not yours. They work for the billionaires. They work for them. They will show the Ambanis’ wedding for 24 hours. But even if a tribal dies, if he is killed, if he begs with folded hands, he will not be shown by the media.”

May 6, Khargone, Madhya Pradesh

The Congress leader addressed a public rally at Segaon in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh in support of party candidate Porlal Kharte.

At the 13.47-minute mark in the above video, Gandhi states, “If the Constitution is abolished, all your rights will come to an end… water bodies, forests, land (jal-jangal-zameen), reservation, public sector, everything will vanish. And Hindustan will be ruled by 22-25 people. Who are these people? They are the billionaires of Hindustan. People like Adani, whose eyes are fixed on your land, your forests, your water bodies. They want these to be snatched from you and handed over to them. They are special friends of Narendra Modi ji. Have you heard the name Adani? Have you? The Prime Minister wants to give away your land, forests, water bodies to Adani. Airports, power stations, ports, infrastructure, everything has been given to these 22-25 people by Narendra Modi ji… he has waived off loans amounting to Rs 16 Lakh Crore of these 22-25 people.”

Again, 22.03-minute onward, he states, “Steps like introduction of GST and demonitaztion were taken to help billionaires. Narendra Modi wanted to help people like Adani and hence he brought in faulty GST, demonetization… ”

May 6, Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh

Rahul Gandhi spoke at a public meeting in support of Congress candidate Kantilal Bhuria in Ratlam Lok Sabha constituency of Madhya Pradesh, where he made the same allegations against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the mainstream media. He stated, “Brothers and sisters, you must have noticed that the media persons never talk about tribals. Isn’t that right? They will show Ambanis’ wedding, the Bollywood, dancing and singing, but there are atrocities on tribals, your children are raped, your land is snatched away, then nothing is ever said about you in the media.”

Lashing out at PM Modi for his alleged favouritism to billionaires, Gandhi also stated, “Narendra Modi has waived off loans worth Lakhs of crores of 22 people. He has given money to billionaires. We have made up our mind that if he can give money to them, we can give money to tribals, dalits, backward classes, the poor from the general caste.”

The speech document can be found here in text format.

He repeated the allegations in another speech at an election rally at Nagakurnool in Telangana on May 6 and while addressing the youth on May 4 in Delhi. In both the places, Gandhi mentioned the name of the Adani Group chairman.

May 3, Pune, Maharashtra

Gandhi spoke at a public rally campaigning for the Congress Pune Lok Sabha candidate Ravindra Dhangekar. Pointing out the absence of tribals and backward classes in corporate media houses, he stated, “Look at the names of big media companies, look at the names of their owners, look at the names of big anchors, look at the names of big journalists, you will not see a single person from the backward classes, not a dalit, not a tribal. That’s why they never talk about farmers, about labourers, about unemployement. They show Ambanis’ wedding to you. In that, they show you someone wearing a watch worth ten crores, someone is wearing clothes worth two crores, they show that. But the farmers are hungry, there is no water in the fields, price-rise is increasing, they will never show these things, they are not yours. They are not yours, they belong to Adani.”

A text document of the speech can be found here.

This shows that contrary to the ‘sudden silence’ statement by Prime Minister Modi on May 8, Rahul Gandhi attacked billionaire businessmen Ambani and Adani in his speeches on each of the five days before Modi made the claim, i.e., on May 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7th.

Prior to that, on April 30, Rahul Gandhi had shared a video on X (Twitter) where he made arguably the most scathing attack against the billionaire duo’s alleged links with PM Modi. In the clip captioned “I am yours, he is theirs. Understand the difference,” Gandhi says, “Have you seen Narendra Modiji’s photo with Ambani and Adani? But have you heard the word ‘Ambani’ or ‘Adani’ on Narendra Modi’s lips? Have you seen my photo with them? But I utter the words ‘Adani’, ‘Ambani’. Understand the difference. I am yours, he is theirs.”

A similar clip, which talks about PM Modi’s close association with Gautam Adani, was shared by the official X handle of Congress on May 6 with the same caption. And a couple of days later, PM Modi named Ambani and Adani in his speech and alleged that they were sending black money loaded in tempo to Congress.

If PM Modi’s ‘sudden silence’ remarks and his allegations against Ambani and Adani of involvement with black money are seen as a response to this video, it marks a significant moment in the campaign discourse where Prime Minister Modi is responding to a narrative set by Congress.

Conduct a CBI-ED inquiry: Rahul Gandhi Retorts

Rahul Gandhi responded to Modi’s charge through a video statement uploaded on X on the same day Modi spoke in Karimnagar. In the 42-second clip, he dared Prime Minister Modi to conduct a CBI or ED probe into businessmen Adani and Ambani to find out if they had been sending black money to Congress. He also wondered if Modi was speaking from his “personal experience” when he said they sent their money “loaded in a tempo”.

The official X handle of Congress, too, shared a video compiling short clips of Rahul Ganshi’s mentions of the billionaire businessmen in recent speeches.

Alt News has written to the Reliance Industries Limited and the Adani Group seeking their response to allegations of Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani’s involvement in black money by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This story will be updated as and when we receive a response from them.

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About the Author

Indradeep, a journalist with over 10 years' experience in print and digital media, is a Senior Editor at Alt News. Earlier, he has worked with The Times of India and The Wire. Politics and literature are among his areas of interest.