- Posters invited Robert Vadra to contest polls from his hometown Moradabad
- Robert Vadra had said he is open to a "larger role in serving the people"
- He is being probed in a money-laundering case
A day after his loaded Facebook post, Robert Vadra's political ambition was on display in posters in Moradabad, the Uttar Pradesh town that is home to his family. Asked about them, he told reporters, "I will start working on it". The businessman, who is Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's husband, takes centre-stage in the posters that have smaller images of his in-laws, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. "Robert Vadraji, you are welcome to contest from the Moradabad Lok Sabha seat," say the posters credited to the "Moradabad Youth Congress".
Asked about contesting polls, Robert Vadra told news agency ANI, "First, I need to absolve myself from baseless accusations and allegations." The 50-year-old businessman is being investigated in a money-laundering case and has been through marathon grilling sessions.
"But yes, I will start working on it. There is no hurry. People need to feel that I can make a change... All in time," he added, making it clear that politics is on his mind.
Sources say the poster, reportedly forwarded by Robert Vadra to journalists, reflects his keenness to contest the election, just weeks after his wife Priyanka formally joined the party after a long time in the Congress backrooms. Both when Priyanka's debut was announced and when she went on her first roadshow in Lucknow earlier this month, Robert Vadra posted messages wishing her.
Moradabad, currently with the ruling BJP, is a coveted seat for the Congress. Former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin, who won the seat in 2009, is believed to be keen on contesting from the town famous for its handicrafts and exports.
After being snubbed by the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav combo, the Congress is contesting alone in Uttar Pradesh, which, with 80 parliamentary seats, is the holy grail for parties as they seek power at the centre.
On Sunday, Robert Vadra said in his Facebook post: "The years n months that I spent campaigning n working in different parts of the country, but mainly in UP, gave me a feeling to do more for the people n make smaller changes possible by me, in their areas n when they got to know me, the genuine love, affection n respect I earned was humbling ... All these years of experience n learning cannot be just wasted and should be put to better use... once all these accusations n allegations are over, I feel I should dedicate a larger role in serving the people...."
Later, in a statement, he said: "I don't have to be in politics to help the people of the country, but if by joining I can make a larger difference, then why not? But the people will decide".
The BJP sneered in its response online: "Presenting Congress's Prime Ministerial candidate for Lok Sabha elections. #RobertIsReady".
The ruling party's Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a union minister, said cuttingly: "In this P-R (Priyanka-Rahul) power circus, a joker was missing. Now the Joker seems set to make an entry."
Robert Vadra, a controversial figure because of allegations of shadowy land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan when the Congress was in power, had been seen less and less when Priyanka Gandhi campaigned in the family constituencies of Amethi and Raebareli in the past few elections.
Investigators claim that Mr Vadra directly or indirectly owns nine London-based properties worth around 12 million pounds. Three of these are villas; the rest are luxury flats purchased between 2005 and 2010, when the UPA government was in power.
Robert Vadra calls the investigation a "political witch-hunt".
In the Facebook post, he said: "More than a decade of different governments being after me, using n highlighting my name to divert real issues of the country. People of the country gradually realised this Modus n knew there was no truth in any of these allegations. People reach out n show respect n wish me luck n a better future."