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Three Questions

Yogendra Yadav succinctly sums up the whole l'affaire Vadra: (a rough summing up - not a full transcription):

Are we dealing with wild allegations? Each allegation made here is backed by a document. Not one of these documents has been claimed to be forged by anyone.

These documents have been checked by independent media like the Hindu etc.

Will the case presented by Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal lead to foolproof legal conviction? We do not.

But the questions we are asking are basically three:

1. Is Mr Vadra's dealing a a healthy, normal business practice -- an ethical practice which then every business man in the country should try and emulate?

2. Is the conduct of Haryana government in public interest?

3. Is the conduct of a very, very powerful person in this country connected to the most powerful family - does it meet the minimum norms of political morality?

These are larger questions, not of conviction of an individual. These are questions of propriety and not legality.

Could Mr Vadra not have learnt something from the PM's family whose behaviour has been exemplary because despite all other charges against the PM, not a finger has been raised against any of the PM's close relatives.

The Prime Minister keeps talking about Caesar's wife who should be above suspicion. The same should apply to Mr Vadra

Dhushyant Dave:

In the Ramayana, the dhobi had just raised a question about Sita. And Lord Ram ensured that she underwent a test by fire. You control the CBI. The people of the country are not asking anything more than the fact that Mr Vadra should undergo an investigation and prove out innocent.

Yogendra Yadav:

All that is required is a credible, independent investigation

SHORT TAKES
02 Nov 2012, 11:56:18 PM | Buzz

Chander Suta Dogra in the Hindu: Web of political links helped Vadra’s land deals:

Even as the Congress party and the Haryana government insist Robert Vadra’s real estate dealings in the State are private transactions that did not involve any illegality, new evidence indicates that the businessman — who is also Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law — was provided access to a web of politically-connected property developers that went out of its way to help him build his realty empire.

31 Oct 2012, 02:42:11 PM | Buzz

Shalini Singh of the Hindu follows up the Business Standard story: Behind Haryana land boom, the Midas touch of Hooda

Robert Vadra may be the most talked about property developer in Haryana but the emergence of links between the man who sold Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law his first plot of land and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has shone a spotlight on the crucial role played by the Congress-run government in turning realty in the State into a business worth thousands of crores of rupees...

Mr. Hooda has already come under media scrutiny following his decision to transfer IAS whistleblower Ashok Khemka from the State’s land registration office shortly after he began a probe into alleged irregularities in property dealings involving real estate major DLF and Mr. Vadra.

Last week, Business Standard reported that the 3.53-acre plot of land in Manesar whose purchase in January 2008 marked the entry of Mr. Vadra into the real estate business belonged to a company whose owner, Satyanand Yajee, is a long-standing associate of Mr. Hooda. If the regulatory filings made by Mr. Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality, are correct, Mr. Yajee was a benevolent seller. He did not cash the cheque he received from Mr. Vadra until after the latter obtained a licence changing the plot’s land use to commercial and sold it to DLF for a hefty profit — something no property dealer would normally do.

Congress spokespersons were at pains to deny favouritism by the State government in the speedy grant of the Manesar licence to Mr. Vadra and they are correct. Skylight is not the only beneficiary of official help: It turns out that Mr. Hooda, who took office in March 2005, has allocated licences to over 350 real estate firms of all sizes, most of which were unknown or had no experience whatsoever in property development.

13 Oct 2012, 04:22:39 PM | Buzz

John Samuel and Raja D in the Economic Times: DLF did Rs 446 crore deals with Robert Vadra in 50:50 hotel venture:

& DLF Ltd, India's largest real estate company, has carried out three transactions worth Rs 446 crore with its hotel joint venture since giving Robert Vadra a 50% stake in it for Rs 35 crore in October 2009, an ET investigation has uncovered.

These dealings, many experts say, raise further questions about the depth of the business relationship between DLF, a listed company, and entities owned by the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

15 Oct 2012, 02:46:39 PM | Buzz

Coomi Kapoor in the Indian Express:

DLF was ordered to pay damages of Rs 625 crore in The Belaire case. The matter is now in appeal. One of the issues under debate concerned the sudden increase in height of the three multi-storey apartments after the Haryana Town and Country Planning department took a decision in 2008 to do away with height restrictions for high rise buildings. Although this order was for all housing complexes, it was the DLF with its multi-storied apartments around the Golf Course, which got a real bonanza. The height of the under-construction apartment complexes of Belaire, Park Place and Magnolias went up by around 35 per cent. This works out to an estimated additional profit of around Rs 1,000 crore. What was unusual was that DLF slowed down all building activity on Belaire and Park Place in 2007 and began construction work at full pace only in 2009.

12 Oct 2012, 10:11:50 PM | Buzz

Swapan Dasgupta in the Telegraph:

 Congress now finds itself battling a fire that has reached its sanctum sanctorum — the private chambers of the Gandhi family. At stake is the very credibility of the family that has provided both the inspiration and the glue to keep India’s largest political party together. Damaad Gate has all the ingredients to become another embarrassing Bofors moment for the Congress. Certainly, the mood of disgust and despondency that has overwhelmed India after more than two years of non-governance has enhanced the likelihood of a wild card such as Kejriwal puncturing the pretensions of the high and mighty...

...At that time [in March 2011 when the story first came out in ET], there were at least two senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders — Arun Jaitley and Yashwant Sinha — who were prepared to raise the issue in Parliament and bring it into the public domain. They were prevented from doing so by the party’s all-important core committee on the ground that it would be wrong to target the children of political opponents.

This apparent act of high-mindedness has now recoiled on the party. It is now being alleged, not least by the politicians spawned by the Anna Hazare movement, that the BJP’s silence was proof of the complicity of the entire political class in perpetuating a system based on cronyism and corruption. The charge is not entirely untrue and is likely to generate a political cost. More than anything else, the BJP’s reluctance to hit the holy dynastic cow has ensured that the political benefits of the disgust against unethical practices won’t fully accrue to the principal opposition party. 

12 Oct 2012, 09:34:59 PM | Buzz

Business Standard: Aralia, Magnolia flat prices soared before Vadra buys:

The value of a flat in DLF’s The Aralias project in Gurgaon rose about four times in less than two years. Compared to an average price of Rs 2,548 per sq ft in November 2006, prices stood at Rs 12,000 per sq ft in September 2008, a 370 per cent jump in 22 months. Even during the boom years of 2007 and 2008, the jump was extraordinary, say analysts.

Last week, DLF said a flat in The Aralias was sold to Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, in September 2008, for Rs 11.9 crore. Considering the flat had an area of 10,000 sq ft, the sale price stood at about Rs 12,000 a sq ft, one of the highest rates paid, DLF said. “Mr Vadra’s purchase, at Rs 12,000 per sq ft, is among the highest prices at which the company sold apartments in The Aralias,” DLF said in a release on October 6, following allegations by social activist Arvind Kejriwal.

12 Oct 2012, 08:01:19 PM | Buzz

Business Standard: Who to believe: Vadra's bank or balance sheet?

The curious dealings of Robert Vadra have become even more curious, with a bank mentioned in the balance sheet of one of his companies denying it ever undertook a transaction clearly stated in the firm’s auditor’s report...

With Corporation Bank, whose name and branch is plainly stated in the balance sheet, now denying it extended any such facility to Vadra, the veracity of the information with the MCA itself is unclear. The implications are far-reaching. If the transaction was never made, as asserted by Corporation Bank, then it is not beyond reasonable doubt the mistake lies with the company in question, Sky Light Hospitality, or its auditor, SRC Bhat and Associates, or both.

The question also remains open, as a result of this, that if Corporation Bank did not provide Vadra with Rs 7.94 crore, then where else could it have come from? The amount is crucial because the same year Sky Light Hospitality paid the first instalment of Rs 7.94 crore to buy land in Haryana’s Manesar, thereby kicking off Vadra’s foray into the real estate business.

12 Oct 2012, 12:32:11 AM | Buzz

Yogendra Yadav in the Indian Express: This shadow of exception

The short-term consequences of this episode appear to be uncertain and ambiguous. We do not know how the loss of legitimacy might hit the ruling party’s already declining fortunes. It is harder to speculate on who the beneficiary might be. We do not know if it would contribute to a sense of cynicism about politics or help build an alternative.

In the long run, however, the breakdown of this code of silence is good news for the country. If Vadra can be questioned in public, just like any ordinary property dealer, then no one is beyond the pale of public scrutiny. Hopefully, this spirit of public scrutiny can then be extended to the Ambanis and Saharas and to how their empires are linked with politics and the media.

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