Dear BJP, When Will You Act Against Robert Vadra?

Published: June 01, 2016 13:51 IST
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Robert Vadra has resurfaced. Yet again. Like a phoenix, the issue about his alleged corruption never dies. Now he is linked with an arms dealer who supposedly bought a benami property for him in London. This issue has turned into a slugfest between the BJP and the Congress. For the first time ever, Sonia Gandhi has jumped in to defend her son-in-law. She called Modi a "Shehnashah" (the King of Kings), insinuating that the entire issue has been hatched to malign her image in the government's attempt to make India "Congress-Mukt (free)".

There is no denying the fact that Modi has emerged as the biggest crisis for the Congress in general and for the Nehru-Gandhi family in particular. Not only has the BJP for the first time got a majority in the lower house in 2014, but it is also unabashedly pursuing its agenda to finish the Congress, erase its memory from the collective consciousness. Unfortunately for the Congress, it has not been able to resolve the issue of its leadership. Rahul Gandhi is incapable of leading the Congress and Sonia is getting old. So the clamour within the party is growing stronger that the baton should be passed onto Priyanka Gandhi who in their opinion looks like a natural successor to the Nehru-Gandhi legacy.

The RSS/BJP has been very vary of Priyanka, and in their private conversations, they admit that she might be able to revive the Congress. She is seen as a potential threat to their age-old agenda of converting India into a militant Hindu Society. The regular appearance of Robert Vadra in scandals and the undue aggression of the BJP on the issue is a pointer in that direction. This is a way to tell Priyanka that if she were to decide to enter active politics, then she should be prepared to pay a bigger price in her personal life.
 

Supporters shower flower petals on Priyanka Vadra, daughter of Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, during an election campaign in her mother’s constituency Rae Bareli in April, 2014 (AP photo)

During the parliamentary elections in 2014, the only time Modi was nervous was when Priyanka attacked him frontally while campaigning for her mother Sonia and brother Rahul in UP. Modi had said then that she was like his daughter and Priyanka responded that nobody should try to be her father, nobody could replace her father (former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi). To counter Priyanka, the BJP came out with a booklet and an 8-minute documentary on Robert Vadra. Senior leader Ravi Shankar Prasad was deputed to mount the attack on Priyanka. The BJP called it "the Vadra model of development." On April 27, 2014, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "There was a gross violation of law relating to land and environment...This is a text book case of corruption and crony capitalism under the state patronage." My question is if it was such a "serious" issue (land deals in Haryana) and there was such a "gross violation", then after assuming office, why hasn't the Modi government put him behind bars? It has been more than two years since Modi became the Prime Minister. Nothing has moved. Vadra is a free man. He has not been even questioned once!

Similarly, Haryana and Rajasthan's BJP governments had pompously announced that Robert Vadra's land deals would be investigated and action would be taken. The BJP's Haryana government instituted a commission of inquiry under the chairmanship of Justice S N Dhingra in May, 2015. Arjun Meghwal, a senior BJP leader in Haryana, sufficed with saying, "There is a land ceiling act in Rajasthan, Vadra has openly violated that act and we will take the issue to its logical end." No action yet. This statement was made in the context of Robert Vadra's alleged involvement in the Bikaner Land scam.
 

Benami London home for Robert Vadra linked to arms dealer, suggests report accessed by NDTV. He is married to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka.

Most surprisingly, the Congress has been challenging the BJP to take action against Vadra. Senior leader of the party Digvijaya Singh had said, "BJP is doing gimmickry, hawabaji. If Vadra has violated any law, they should take action." Digvijaya said this in November. Again no action. Now another allegation has appeared on TV screens and on the front pages of newspapers. The question remains the same - will any action be taken? Will Vadra be questioned/interrogated? Will he be put behind bars? I have my doubts.

Very recently, Italy's Milan appellate court pronounced the verdict in the Augusta Westland case and convicted two officials of the company. The court judgement mentioned the names of Sonia Gandhi and other senior leaders. The BJP and senior members of the Modi cabinet were shouting from rooftops. All kinds of accusations were made against Sonia but, not so surprisingly, no visible action has been initiated till now. Even a notice has not been served. No questioning has happened. If Sonia is involved, as claimed by the BJP, then by now, she should be in trouble and facing law agencies. But she is sitting quietly in 10 Janpath. So I can say with certainty that a pattern is emerging.

The BJP knows that the UPA government lost its mandate due to serious corruption charges against the Manmohan Singh government. It was dubbed the most corrupt government since Independence. The Congress was so discredited that its number in the Lok Sabha shrunk to a historic low. It has lost four states in a row since then. The possibility of its revival is very dim as of now. 
 

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has dared the government to "conduct an inquiry" into the allegations against Robert Vadra

Modi is a very shrewd politician. He knows that the Bofors scam has permanently crippled the Congress. The damage was more decimating as it was for the first time that a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family was targeted and Rajiv Gandhi was in the eye of the storm. The Congress then was reduced from 405 seats to 192 in the 1989 elections. Since then it, has failed to acquire a clear majority in the Lok Sabha. Bofors weakened both the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family permanently.

Modi wants to keep the pressure on the Congress, keep its leaders tainted in the eyes of the people, rob them of any chance of acquiring any moral high ground in the future. This heat is working, unnerving the Nehru-Gandhi family. Sonia calling Modi a Shehanshah is reflective of that unease.

The Robert Vadra issue will keep resurfacing, allegations of corruption will keep flying, the BJP will keep attacking. but investigating agencies will move at a snail's pace as that is what suits Modi. Thus the Congress' war cry that the Augusta matter should be investigated in two months, Vadra's land deals should be inquired in time bound manner. But these will not cut any ice with the Modi government. The Congress and Sonia Gandhi and the entire Nehru-Gandhi family has to live with this. The sword will forever dangle over their heads.

(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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