New Delhi, Oct 9 (IBNS): Social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday made a second installment of allegations against Robert Vadra, the reclusive son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, heightening the pitch of attacks against India’s ruling party struggling to leave behind a slew of corruption scandals.
At a press conference, Kejriwal “exposed” links between Vadra and the Haryana government with documents that proved that the state had favoured the company and acquired land from farmers by trick to hand over to real-estate bellwether DLF where Vadra held majority shares.
Demanding a white paper on the deals with DLF from the Haryana government, Kejriwal said the farmers were cheated and their land acquired for development of roads and housing for common people were handed over to DLF from where Robert Vadra derived benefits. He said land use was changed after acquiring the plots.
The Congress once again scrambled to trash the allegations as a “publicity stunt” by Kejriwal who is in the process of launching a political party while the Haryana government and DLF denied charges of any malfeasance separately.
The fresh charges on Tuesday follow similar allegations by Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan last week that Vadra had received kickbacks from DLF in lieu of favours from the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Vadra, who is the son-in-law of Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, considered to be the most powerful politician in India, had denied the allegations and said the charges were attempts to gain publicity.
Making the startling claims on Tuesday, Kejriwal said that even the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said there is a mala fide nexus between the two.
He said the Haryana government instead of building hospital in the land meant for it, permitted real estate firm DLF to build there something else.
He said the court has said Haryana government is showering favours on DLF.
“Prima facie there is strong evidence (against Vadra). We demand an independent probe by a Special Investigation Team of retired Supreme Court judges. An FIR should be lodged against Vadra immediately," he said.
Kejriwal said on March 9, 2007 the state government gave permission to DLF to build a SEZ (Special Economic Zone), but one month before that only DLF built a company for the purpose in which Robert Vadra was a majority shareholder.
Robert Vadra after one year sold back the shares to DLF, Kejriwal said.
He said 350 acres of land in Gurgaon worth Rs 1.700 crore was given to DLF. He said financial bids of other companies for projects were not even opened after their technical bids were rejected on the pretext of not having experience in building golf course before.
He said companies like Unitech and Country Heights were rejected in bids because they "had no experience of golf course construction though their bids were higher."
He said the land was acquired from farmers by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for houses, roads but nothing was built. "No road was made, all land was given to DLF," said Kejriwal.
Kejriwal said HSIDC (Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.) acquired 275 acres of forest land which was given to DLF though such land was not allowed for forest use under law.
He said by using fraudulent measures the Haryana government acquired land from farmers and acted as agent of DLF.
He said DLF said no unsecured loan was given to Vadra but that is a lie.
"They proved one after another unsecured loans were given to Vadra. It is worth Rs 85 crore," he said.
The Haryana government should come out with a white paper on the land given to DLF in the past ten years, said Kejriwal.
Kejriwal also presented before media farmers of Manesar to speak on how they were cheated.
"What is the relationship between Vadra and Congress party? Why the finance and law ministers are trying to save him? Law Minister Salman Khurshid even said he will give his life for Sonia Gandhi, we thought he can do it for the country," mocked Kejriwal.
He said on Oct 16 he will go public with more such revelations.
Moments after Kejriwal made his claims on Tuesday, the Congress party trashed the claims with its spokesperson Rashid Alvi saying the move is a publicity antic and there is no proof that even these documents were real.
"There is nothing new in what he (Arvind Kejriwal) said. This was done only to gain publicity," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters.
"Who knows if these documents are authentic," he said. "Have they approached Haryana government for a white paper?"
Congress leader and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily also said no anomalies were found in the business deals of Vadra and realty major DLF.
He said there was no wrong done prima facie in the deals.
"No violations were found In DLF-Robert Vadra issue. From our record we do not find any irregularity or violations," said Moily.
He said his department checked into six companies where Vadra has stakes and found nothing wrong.
DLF late on Tuesday also rejected the fresh allegations by Kerijwal of a nexus with Vadra and Haryana government and said it enjoyed no special favours with the state government.
"We stand by our earlier statement and wish to once again specifically state that DLF has neither sought nor enjoyed any special favours from the Government of Haryana and all developments of DLF undertaken over the last four decades are strictly in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations with an adherence to the highest ethical standards," the company said in a statement.
In a point-by-point rebuttal of Kerijwal's allegations, the company said an attempt was being made to sensationalise issues which are already in the public domain.
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tuesday however said that Congress must investigate Vadra instead of rushing to defend him.
"Why is the Congress in this particular case rushing to defence instead of investigating. It is getting murkier," said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman after Kejriwal "revealed" most information on Vadra's deals with realty firm DLF and the alleged favours that the firm got from Haryana government.
"We demand a comprehensive inquiry. It nothing is worrisome why worry at all," she asked.
On Oct 5, creating a political firestorm, Arvind Kejriwal and his team targetted the Congress first family laying before people the undervalued property deals of party chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra with DLF, alleging the latter made hundreds of crores in return of government favours to the firm.
Soon after the charges were slapped, the entire Congress machinery was out defending the Gandhis with Sonia Gandhi herself in a one-liner statement denying Vadra misused his position. Congress called Vadra a soft target of publicity hungry Kejriwal.
Kejrwial and his team dropped their "corruption bombshell" by naming Robert Vadra, husband of Priyanka Gandhi, as a beneficiary of Rs 300 crore in a huge property deal by DLF company under which he was allegedly given properties in a throwaway price.
Aiming fingers at the Gandhis indirectly, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan in a press conference said DLF, which got land from Congress ruled governments, gave unsecured interest free loans to Vadra to buy only their property at very cheap prices.
On Sunday, Robert Vadra issued a statement saying the charges were false, baseless and defamatory and made by a person (Kejriwal) to launch his political party with a cheap publicity bid.
"I am a law-abiding citizen engaged in business for over 21 years," he said in the statement.
He said he is saddened by the charges by Kejriwal and Bhushan aimed at maligning his family.
"My business transactions are fully reflected in financial statements filed before appropriate government authorities in compliance with the law. They are available in the public domain to anyone interested in knowing the truth," he said.