By Mayank Jain:
We have all seen him walking with Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi in news reports and videos that talk about the Congress party or anything related to it. We know him as an astute businessman whose name appears on the list of people exempted from frisking at airports. We also know him as the man whom Kejriwal takes credit for ‘exposing’, during India Against Corruption campaign, because he took interest free loans running into figures with more than seven zeroes. But, do we really know the reality of Robert Vadra and his business interests?
Wall Street Journal’s recent report: “Behind a Real-Estate Empire, Ties to India’s Gandhi Dynasty” talks of the same man and highlights how quickly he built a real estate empire that still continues to soar in value.
The report is detailed and gives us multiple points to ponder. To begin with, it highlights his interest in Rajasthan’s land when Congress was in power in the state and how he would send a representative in a Black SUV to dole out money from theÂ back seat to shocked villagers who could never believe their land was worth so much. Incidentally, the state announced large scale solar energy production plans in 2011 and the value of the land he bought soared six fold in just three years.
The story also highlights the fact that 83% of Indians consider corruption to be a “Very big problem”. The problem, is that Congress has become synonymous with corruption lately and the anti-incumbency sentiment is on all time high. People continue to debate over the deals and holdings of India’s royal family and seek connections with the shrewd businessman, Robert Vadra.
The important thing to note here is that no legal authority has ever held Mr. Vadra responsible and clean chits have been given to him more than once. Questions have also been raised in the report on his relationship with the DLF which has poured money into his company. The money appeared as “Advances” on the balance sheet which the company clarified was a payment for the land that DLF bought from him, at seven times his purchase price.
The facts are gory; the article is full of them. They need more scrutiny and better explanations from the ministers and party that line up to protect the businessman every time some questions are raised.
It is equally possible that no laws have been broken in this process of empire building and real estate transactions, but the silence of key authorities is eerie. An overdraft of crores from Corporation Bank has been completely denied by the bank. Ashok Khemka, an IAS officer who tried to blow the whistle was transferred by the government to an agricultural company.
The legislative and judicial process will take its course and bring justice and truth for all of us soon, hopefully.