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Indian opposition demands probe into alleged Modi ‘stock market scam’

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Indian National Congress, has questioned the prime minister’s advice on stocks 

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, has called for a parliamentary investigation into a stock market crash during the recently-concluded national election. Gandhi has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi – whose party leads the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) coalition and won the election – of giving “misleading” investment advice.

Indian stocks crashed on June 4, when the votes cast by over 640 million people over the past six weeks were counted. Around $380 billion was erased in market value, according to Business Standard, as markets plummeted to a four-year low. This occurred just one day after the markets soared to unprecedented levels – as the early exit polls released on June 1 ahead of the official vote count predicted a landslide victory for the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its NDA bloc. 

On Thursday, Gandhi questioned the advice Modi and Indian Home Minister Amit Shah gave on the stock market ahead of the last day of polling. “Amit Shah said buy shares before June 4. On May 19, PM Modi said the stock market would break records on June 4,” he said, referring to recent interviews of the BJP leaders with Indian media. Gandhi called the crash the “biggest stock market scam.” 

“Why did PM Modi and Union home minister give specific investment advice to the five crore [50 million] families investing in the stock market?” Gandhi asked.

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He has demanded that a joint parliamentary committee investigate the “connection between the BJP, the fake exit pollsters, and the dubious foreign investors who invested one day before the exit polls were announced.”

According to the official polling results announced by the Election Commission after the votes were counted, the BJP failed to reach 272 parliamentary seats on its own in order to secure a majority. However, the NDA bloc secured a majority with 293 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha (the lower house of parliament). The Congress Party-led Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc defied expectations by winning 232 seats and has been reaching out to rival NDA bloc allies in an attempt to form a government.

Hitting back at Gandhi over his demand to investigate the market crash, senior BJP leader and trade minister in the outgoing cabinet Piyush Goyal said Gandhi is “unable to handle the INDI Alliance’s loss in the Lok Sabha election.” He also claimed that Gandhi is trying to “mislead the investors.”

READ MORE: Modi in limbo: With no majority, the Indian PM is at the mercy of his coalition partners

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that India’s stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board, is examining trade patterns ahead of the exit polls and general election results for any suspicious transactions.

The NDA bloc elected Modi as its leader on Wednesday, paving the way for his third term as prime minister. BJP leader Pralhad Joshi told the media on Friday that Modi’s swearing-in ceremony could be held on June 9. The NDA has been holding meetings on the formation of a government in the past two days, as the BJP leadership must negotiate cabinet roles with fellow alliance members.

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June 07, 2024 at 07:34PM

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