Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, told NDTV on Sunday that the charges of corruption levelled against him by activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan are an attempt to "malign my family in order to gain cheap publicity for themselves and for the launch of their political party."
Mr Vadra also hinted that he may take legal action - he said the allegations made against him are "utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory." (Read full statement)
But Mr Kejriwal continued the war of words and asked Mr Vadra to clarify the charges against him. "Vadra has not responded to specific questions asked by us... Vadra should come in the open and clarify charges against him," he said on Sunday.
Mr Kejriwal and Mr Buhshan launched an anti-graft political party last week. In a press conference on Friday, Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan had alleged that real estate giant DLF had gifted Mr Vadra a 65-crore interest-free loan and sweetheart deals on a series of apartments in Gurgaon.
Though they did not offer evidence, they said DLF gave Mr Vadra's Skylight Hospitality Private Limited hugely discounted flats in return for favours from the Congress, which they claimed ranged from rushed clearances and permissions to allowing DLF to build commercial projects on land acquired for public interest.
DLF, on Saturday, had denied all the charges, explaining that Mr Vadra was not offered unsecured loans or apartments at cheaper rates than other customers. (Read: No unsecured loans were given to Robert Vadra, DLF clarifies)
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar also slammed Mr Kejriwal. "This has become a fashion...Instead of demanding Special Investigation Team (SIT) from the government, Kejriwal should go to court and file a criminal case against him (Robert Vadra)... He should prove what he has said," Mr Pawar said on Sunday. (Read more
Mr Kejriwal and his team have said that they will give a detailed response after they study the clarifications sent by Mr Vadra and DLF. Mr Kejriwal, who had said earlier that he should be sued if his charges were found incorrect, said on Sunday that DLF's statement was "full of half-truths and lies" but did not elaborate.
The activists' accusations against Mr Vadra have been derided by the Congress and snatched by the BJP to demand an investigation. Mrs Gandhi, sources said, has instructed her party leaders to staunchly defend her son-in-law. They have obliged. The party line is that the activists have misrepresented facts to try and damage the Congress' credibility ahead of elections in major states like Gujarat and Karnataka.