Gautam Adani, once the third richest man in the world, shed $58 billion of his wealth less than a week after an American financial research firm published a report accused his India-based energy conglomerate of pulling the “largest con in corporate history” and shorted the Adani Group’s stocks.
Since then, Adani’s close ties with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have come under scrutiny, putting Modi in a difficult position. Some of the sharpest criticism has come from hedge fund tycoon and billionaire investor George Soros, who alleged that the Adani debacle would weaken Modi’s grasp on India, paving the way for a “democratic revival.”
Now, a senior government minister has replied to push back on the criticism—and on Soros, as a foreign investor, in particular.
India’s foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar slammed Soros’ remarks at an energy conference in Sydney on Saturday, dismissing his views on the country and the effects of Modi’s curious ties with Adani.
“He is old, rich, opinionated and dangerous,” Jaishankar said of Soros. “What happens is, when such people and such views and such organizations—they actually invest resources in shaping narratives.”
Soros’s comments about Modi and Adani came at a security conference in Munich last week, where he accused Modi of not being a “democrat” even while being the leader of a democratic country like India. He also talked about how Modi has been tight-lipped about Adani’s meltdown, which could undermine his power at the government level and ultimately lead to “much-needed institutional reform.”
“Modi and business tycoon Adani are close allies; their fate is intertwined. Adani Enterprises tried to raise funds in the stock market, but he failed,” Soros said.
When asked about Soros’ prediction that Modi’s role would weaken in India, Jaishankar said that people like Soros believed that their definition and views are above everything else, reflecting a typical “Euro-Atlantic view” where Western countries are the dominant powers.
“People like him think an election is good if the person we want to see wins. If the election throws out a different outcome, we actually will say it’s a flawed democracy,” Jaishankar said.
Representatives from India’s Ministry of External Affairs did not immediately return Fortune’s request for comment. George Soros could not be immediately reached for comment.
Not the only one to push back
Jaishankar isn’t the only one who pushed back against Soros. The former finance minister of India tweeted that he did not agree with most of what Soros says, in the past and in the current instance of a so-called democratic revival.
Even members of the opposition party in India have rejected the connection between Modi, Adani and the dawn of institutional reform in India. The general secretary of the Indian National Congress, Jairam Ramesh, tweeted: “Whether the PM-linked Adani scam sparks a democratic revival in India depends entirely on the Congress, Opposition parties & our electoral process. It has NOTHING to do with George Soros. Our Nehruvian legacy ensures people like Soros cannot determine our electoral outcomes.”
Whether the PM-linked Adani scam sparks a democratic revival in India depends entirely on the Congress, Opposition parties & our electoral process. It has NOTHING to do with George Soros. Our Nehruvian legacy ensures people like Soros cannot determine our electoral outcomes.
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) February 17, 2023
The Modi government has maintained its silence on Adani’s meltdown, despite cries at the parliamentary level to investigate Adani Group for its “brazen stock manipulation,” as the Hindenburg report alleged in January. Government ministers have maintained that Adani has “absolutely no connection” with them.
Modi and Adani are natives of the same state in the west of India, and Adani has supported Modi since his early days in power.
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