The muscles certainly look rock-solid, but other things are apparently quite shaky. The man nicknamed FDI—or the First Damaad of India— will remain an embarrassment for the Congress party in the run-up to the 2014 general election. One can be quite certain that as the BJP and Narendra Modi campaigns pick up momentum, we will hear more of ‘burqa’, ‘biriyani’ and the ‘Delhi Sultanate’, depending on the constituency being addressed. And every now and then, ‘Vadra’ too will be added to the verbal armoury.
This Robert has already become quite the villain in public perception. The BJP is trying to lay claim to the story now but it had actually been sitting on it despite having all the documentation before the scandal broke out last year. It eventually needed a wildcard entry like India Against Corruption to go to town with this story on the nation’s most powerful son-in-law. The real estate acquisitions of Robert Vadra now seem set to be the icing on the cake of corruption allegations to be flung repeatedly on the Congress in an election year. Especially given the fresh twist in the saga last week.
Briefly, the facts are as follows: Ashok Khemka, director-general, land consolidation and land records, as well as inspector-general, registration, in Haryana until October 2012, was examining the nexus between Haryana administration officials, DLF and Vadra when the IAC came out with its expose. After it broke, Khemka ordered a formal inquiry into Sky Light Hospitality, a company owned by Robert Vadra and his mother Maureen. However, he was suddenly transferred, which move he challenged. But following the outcry it raised, the Haryana government set up a three-member inquiry committee to probe Vadra’s land deals, which gave him a clean chit. However, in a voluminous response to the inquiry committee formally challenging his transfer on legal grounds, Khemka also raised the issue of Vadra’s legal liability for ‘sham’ land transactions in Gurgaon. This response, running into 105 pages plus voluminous annexures and finalised late last month, maintains Vadra was handed over land at throwaway prices because he was able to secure commercial development licences for agricultural land. He then made windfall gains by reselling a plot to DLF.
It’s worth pondering over the great generosity of regional parties who have traditionally been opposed to the Congress and often been merciless in taking on the national party. To some extent, it’s a reflection of the political contours emerging on the eve of 2014. With the exception of a few regional players left in the NDA, the other parties are ranging on a side that can loosely be termed anti-Modi. One can also speculate on which party hopes to get what from the Congress. The BJP believes the Congress has used the CBI threat to get Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav to toe their line as both face potentially serious charges at various stages of the legal labyrinth.
That’s one part of the equation. The other part is a variable, which will hinge on the degree of success the BJP finds under the leadership of Narendra Modi, especially in Uttar Pradesh with its 80 seats. The Congress, the smallest player in the state currently, would be expected to seek an alliance with one or the other party. Can it afford to choose one over the other?
To every scenario today, then, there is attached a complex narrative. At one stage, certain leaders of the BJP, including president Rajnath Singh, were opposed to raising the Vadra issue on the grounds that children and relatives of politicians should not be targeted. Presumably, politicians are so considerate about such things because tomorrow they might need a return favour. Yet, now that the story is out there, the BJP will use it. One can still ponder, though, if the political class will eventually gang up to protect its own as so much of politics is now controlled by dynasties both at the Centre and the states.
When the scandal first broke out last year, Vadra had on his Facebook page made a throwaway comment about the “Mango people of a banana republic”. He certainly isn’t one of them. He is a privileged citizen of India, married to its first family, with a fortune very clearly built on a fortunate marriage. He has certainly used influence to get rules bent to get rich quick—a picture that fits perfectly into recent public outrage against economic crimes. Every now and then, the people and some politicians might raise this embarrassing tale, but ultimately it is highly unlikely that any great damage will come to the health and wealth of Robert Vadra.
Decoding The Khemka Report
Khemka’s Key Charges
By Saba Naqvi with Pragya Singh
The heyday of Robert Vadra (The Return of Bob the Builder, Aug 26) and his protective mother-in-law must surely be drawing to a close.
P.H. Bhanage, Mumbai
The way the news channels and the print media are going after Vadra, it seems they’ve got the green light to destroy him. The Nehru-Gandhi family has suddenly felt the need to distance itself from him though there's no doubt who he was collecting hafta for.
Mohan R., Gandhidham
Saba Naqvi’s piece on Vadra does not tell the whole truth. It says “the Haryana government set up a three-member committee to probe Vadra’s land deals” but it gave him a clean chit. But the article never says how the committee finished its work in a day or two—without hearing the version of Ashok Khemka, the IAS officer who exposed the wheeling-dealing.
Gaurav Gupta, Richmond
It is said that at one stage, leaders of the BJP, including president Rajnath Singh, were opposed to raising the Vadra issue on the grounds that children and relatives of politicians should not be targeted. I know of one more organisation that follows a similar precept—the mafia.
Tejinder, St Louis
The other day, two news channels subjected Khemka to a grilling, accusing him of many crimes of omission and commission. However, knowing all the rules, Khemka was able to answer all of them and those who wanted to cast aspersions on him had to flee with their tails between their legs.
Dr V. Mahadevan, Chennai
Your article concluded that “ultimately it is unlikely any damage will come to the health and wealth of Robert Vadra.” How true. The media, for all its exposes, ends up achieving little.
H.C. Pandey, Delhi
Vadra, the man with an insider’s view, once likened our country to a banana republic. How well he knows it! Vadra isn’t the only one caught out on a dubious land deal. Some time back, Priyanka bought a plot in Himachal Pradesh for a song. With whistleblowers eliminated or transferred, our politicians have their way.
M.A. Raipet, Secunderabad
36 D Ramki
The accusation of Robert, PROTECTING Priyanka, is gender casteism.
And gender-casteism has nothing to do with ( in this case at least ), politics
The communal are inherently so. They can't help it. Everything they think and say has a communal element in it. So it is understandable that an article about the shameful mafia deal in which Sonia gets Bob his 'hafta' starts with abusing Modi. Saba Naqvi can't hide her innate bigotry.
"Compare how Vadra's case & Nitin Gadkari case were handled by the media and the govt."
If media did not put on kid gloves in Vadra's case you would have accused it of 'biting the hand that feeds it'.
Choatic Country >> Compare how Vadra's case & Nitin Gadkari case were handled by the media and the govt
Why are you shocked? indian Media is all about paid news that sings the glories of the dynasty that rules India.
Misogynist >> It is not about Robert Vadra. It is about Priyanka,
It is not about robert or priyanka or gender. It is about how India as a democracy has effectively become a one party state and also allowed the one party (CONGRESS) to be controlled by one family.
Feudalism (and not religion or gender) is the root cause of all social problems in India (and also elsewhere)
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT