New Delhi: Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said today that at this stage, an inquiry cannot be ordered by the government into the business deals between real estate giant DLF and businessman Robert Vadra, who is the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The deals have been described as illicit by activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, who launched an anti-graft political party last week. The shares of DLF fell by over 7 per cent today. (Read)
"Transactions between two private individuals cannot be questioned on the basis of some imputed or implied act of corruption," Mr Chidambaram said. Mr Kejriwal indicated that he will make public more information about the alleged business deal.
The Congress also continued its defence of Mr Vadra today, asking why the activists didn't file a court or police case if they have evidence of financial irregularities. When asked why the Congress is defending a private individual, Rashid Alvi, a spokesperson for the party, said that, "This attack, which was done purposely, was not an attack on an individual person. This was an attack on the Congress party."
Law Minister Salman Khurshid said that Mr Kejriwal has forced the Congress to react by linking Mr Vadra to Sonia Gandhi in his allegations.
"If he (Mr Kejriwal) had been just mentioned Robert Vadra, then we would not have replied. But he said Robert Vadra, who is directly related to Sonia Gandhi. So we have to reply on the behalf of Sonia Ji. She is the sole reason of what we are and where we are. The Congress chief is everything for us and we can even die for her," Mr Khurshid said today.
The DMK, which is an ally of the UPA government, has been muted in its response to the controversy; party spokesperson TKS Elangovan said, "There are no specific charges against Mr Vadra. Without knowing everything, we can't talk. We can't have an opinion on everything."
Though the Left and the Trinamool Congress both demanded a probe, the Trinamool Congress took a tougher stand. Party MP Sougata Roy said there was "something wrong" about the whole issue. "Daal mein kuchh kala hai," he said, "If an allegation has come, publicly, against a person connected to people in high places in the government or ruling party, we feel it should be investigated."
The CPM's MA Baby was more circumspect. "The individual's name has been raised because of his connections and such a loan has been advanced. We don't want to make any allegations but there should be an inquiry by appropriate agency like Enforcement Directorate," he told reporters.
Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan had suggested that Mr Vadra used the party's black money into his property purchases, estimated by the activists to be worth 500 crores today.
Mr Kejriwal says he stands by his accusations and will elaborate on them on Tuesday at a press conference. He tweeted today, "DLF granted favours to Shri Robert Vadra. What favours did Haryana government grant DLF? How is DLF reply a bunch of lies? Will speak tomorrow at 5 pm."
Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan have accused DLF of gifting an interest-free loan of 65 crore as well as discounted apartments in some of the company's fanciest housing projects in Gurgaon in Haryana, just across the border from Delhi. The activists allege that in return for the sweetheart deals, the Congress, which is in power in Haryana, released land reserved for public interest projects to DLF, and that the developer was given express-lane clearances and permissions.
Mr Vadra has described the allegations as "defamatory" and an attempt by the activist-politicians to get "cheap publicity." (Read) The Congress has made similar accusations, describing the activists as "political upstarts" looking for attention before elections are held in states like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
DLF has also explained that it gave neither discounted apartments nor unsecured loans to Mr Vadra, and stressed that it has not received any undue favours because of its transactions with Mr Vadra.