Activist Arvind Kejriwal produced a new set of documents on Tuesday that he says reek of the illicit business transactions between Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and real estate giant DLF. Like last week, when he first suggested a nexus between Mr Vadra and DLF, the activist said that the quid pro quo came via the Congress government in Haryana, which acted as "an agent of DLF." Mr Kejriwal, who launched an anti-graft political party last week, has asked for a "white paper" or financial statement on the deals, which he says include unsecured loans and massive discounts on prime property for Mr Vadra. (Read: Kejriwal's new allegations against Vadra, DLF and Haryana govt)
Mr Kejriwal said that in 2007, the Haryana government released 30 acres of land meant for a hospital to the real estate company for a Special Economic Zone or SEZ. A year later, in 2008, Mr Kejriwal claimed, Mr Vadra became a 50% stake-holder in the company set up by DLF for this project. In 2009, Mr Vadra allegedly sold his stake back to DLF. "What role did he play in that one year when DLF SEZ was in Mr Vadra's private control?" Mr Kejriwal asked.
None, said the DLF in a statement it released yesterday. "The said 50% shareholding was subsequently bought back from M/s. North India IT Parks Pvt. Ltd. in September 2009 fully at face value of Rs. 2.50 Lacs, as the proposal for developing SEZs could not take off due to deep recession in the market in year 2009. No benefit or gain was made by Mr. Vadra or DLF, in this regard," the statement said. (Read: Full statement by DLF)
The activist says that the Punjab and Haryana High Court intervened in 2011 to stop the SEZ. Mr Kejriwal cited court documents that said "the state and its officers ware tilted in showering favours on DLF." (Full text of document released by Arvind Kejriwal)
The case is now being heard in the Supreme Court.
The Haryana government said Mr Kejriwal's version is incorrect. It said that the 30 acres in question were privately owned by a company named East India Hotels Limited which was unable to build a hospital, and then got legal clearances more than 10 years ago to use the property for commercial purposes, and was then subsequently authorised a few years ago to sell the land to DLF.
Mr Vadra, over the weekend, described the activist's accusations as an attempt to get "cheap publicity" for his new political party.
Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily told NDTV that "wayside allegations" will not be investigated. He also said that based on "a complaint by a private party" a year ago, DLF deals had been studied, a few "technical violations had been found and corrected."
"If Mr Vadra does not use his political connections...if he conducts his business deals at arms-length, why is one minister after another speaking on his behalf?" asked Mr Kejriwal. Yesterday, Finance Minister Chidambaram said that at this stage, an inquiry cannot be conducted between two private parties on the basis of implied corruption. "Is the Finance Minister his income tax assessment officer?" asked Mr Kejriwal. "He has said this to signal to junior officers that they should not scrutinize Mr Vadra's returns," he said. (Watch)
During Mr Vadra's stint with DLF's SEZ company, the activist said, 350 acres of land in Gurgaon's Wazirabad village were given to DLF for 1700 crores in 2009. Some of this land, he said, was owned by government agencies in charge of developing industrial areas and affordable housing projects. Large tranches, he alleged, had been acquired from farmers by the government for public projects including the construction of roads. Mr Kejriwal also said that international bids were invited for this project, but the rules were tweaked at the last minute to ensure the two other bidders were not technically eligible. The Haryana government denied these allegations.
Mr Kejriwal presented a trail of balance sheets of different companies owned by Mr Vadra, which he says reflect unsecured loans from DLF. In 2009, the activist said, the real estate company bought 3.5 acres of land in Gurgaon for 58 crores, whereas just a year earlier, Mr Vadra had paud 15 crores for the same plot. "How did the price soar this much in a year?" he asked. Then, he claimed, DLF gave Mr Kejriwal an advance of 50 crores for this land, but allowed Mr Vadra's company to hold onto the plot for two years- in 2011, a balance sheet for a Vadra firm shows the land is still in its possession. (Read: Vadra mass booked and traded DLF flats, but all above board, say DLF sources)