NEW DELHI – Since former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a state of emergency in the mid-seventies to curb dissent voices, the country has not experienced a crisis similar to the current tension and polarization between Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and opposition parties.

Modi has been tense with the opposition since he came to power in May 2014, but has escalated over the past three months after the Hindenberg Foundation published its report on billionaire Gautam Adani's companies in January, accusing his companies of using devious and illegal ways to raise the value of their shares and achieve significant financial gains.

The closest capitalists to the prime minister took advantage of this relationship to jump from 609th place in the list of the world's richest people to second place in the world in just 8 years of Modi's rule, which, according to the opposition, opened all avenues for his friend's companies to control the stock market, investments, lease airports and ports, seize most of the coal mines and energy production facilities, and even obtain huge contracts and concessions outside the country.

Indian Prime Minister Modi avoids talking about corruption case of his friend Adani (Getty Images)

Adani scandal

Modi's relationship with this businessman remained unannounced in India, fearing police brutality, but the publication of the Hindenberg report turned the matter into street talk, and this became the most important issue in parliament to demand that Modi make an official statement about his relationship with Adani.

Deputies from the ruling People's Party (PPP) and Speaker of Parliament Yaum Birla have been trying to block these demands, and the latter has been removing from the records what opposition leaders say on the matter, and even when Modi spoke for 1.5 hours in parliament on February 8 - during the debate on this crisis - he spoke about everything but Adani.

MP Rahul Gandhi has been the most prominent of Modi's attacks and questions daily in and outside parliament, and besides being the leader of the largest opposition party in parliament (51 out of 542 members), he gained extraordinary importance on the political stage when he led a march from the far south to the far north of the country, covering 4,90 kilometers on foot late last year and early this year over <> days.

It was clear that Gandhi would benefit from this popularity in the upcoming general elections in May 2024, and the leaders of the People's Party had consistently mocked him until then as a "foolish boy."

Rahul Gandhi sentenced to two years in prison for insulting prime minister (Reuters)

Flimsy case

It did not stop at ridicule, but went beyond it by reviving a flimsy case filed against Gandhi 4 years ago in a small court in Gujarat on the pretext that he insulted those with the title "Modi" when he said in one of his speeches, "Why do all thieves have the title Modi?" in reference to two people with this title who fled abroad after borrowing billions from banks.

After the case was revived, the case was pleaded with unprecedented speed in India's notoriously slow judiciary, and the Court of First Instance sentenced Gandhi on March 23 to two years in prison with a 30-day suspension to allow Gandhi to appeal to a higher court.

According to the law, two years in prison is sufficient to revoke the membership of any member of parliament while depriving him of the right to run for another 6 years, and although the verdict was pending to enable Gandhi to appeal, the speaker of parliament immediately after the day after dropped Gandhi's membership and prevented him from running in the elections for the next 6 years, although he did not exhaust his right to appeal the ruling, and no final verdict was issued against him in the case.

The silence of the Modi government, the failure of the relevant government agencies to launch any investigation into the Adani scandal and then the attempt to oust the leader of the largest opposition party prompted the opposition to unite and for the first time began to hold joint demonstrations and marches calling for an investigation into the Adani scandal.

Opposition parliament members, wearing black shirts, protesting against Modi regime inside the Parliament complex for the disqualification of Rahul Gandhi’s parliament membership.

— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) March 27, 2023

Unification of the opposition

With the opposition united under one demand, which is to investigate the Adani case, the issue is now the first in the country and is raised on a daily basis in parliament and outside, and the speaker of parliament resorts to disrupting sessions daily because of the noise raised by opposition deputies every day, demanding that the government make a statement about the scandal and start a parliamentary or judicial investigation into it.

But Modi's government remains completely silent, not saying a single sentence about the most important scandal in India's modern history, and instead focusing on Gandhi's statements demanding that he apologize, making Adani's case a lump in the throat of a prime minister who does not know what it will end.

Observers believe that Gandhi and his party will benefit from these emotional measures, and the Union of Opposition Parties will make it difficult for Modi's party to win a majority in next year's elections, stressing that the situation will take a turn for the ruling party because Modi cannot abandon his friend "Adani" and cannot conduct an impartial investigation because it will show that Modi has violated laws and customs to benefit his friend.

Observers add that Modi is the loser whether he maintains his silence or admits his relationship with the wealthy businessman, everyone in India knows since Modi came to power their friendship amid allegations that Adani is funding the election campaigns of the ruling People's Party.

The Congress Party, which ruled India most of the time after independence in 1947, is still the largest opposition party and currently governs 3 states, Chhatis Kara, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, and has good chances of regaining several large states lost in previous years such as Assam, Karnatka, Madhyabradesh and Maharashtra.