ALREADY trashed as the most corrupt government in the history of independent India, the stink has now reached the top in the Sonia Gandhi-led Congress party. It’s the Gandhi dynasty, which is in the firing line.
Anti-graft crusader turned politician, Arvind Kejriwal has now accused Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of the Congress president and UPA chairperson of illegal transactions and malafide nexus between him and the construction major, DLF.
It was alleged that DLF had gifted Vadra a Rs 65-crore interest-free loan and sweetheart deals on a series of apartments in Gurgaon. The allegations also hinted that following their nexus with Vadra, the Congress-led Haryana government had extended favours to the construction major.
Even as Vadra, DLF and Haryana government have denied any wrongdoing the allegations there remains some unanswered questions about the entire nexus.
Reacting to Kejriwal’s allegations, DLF said that Vadra’s company Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd sold off its land at Manesar to the company for Rs 58 crore and Rs 50 crore was paid as advance. Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd had acquired the land a year ago in 2011 for Rs 15.38 crore.
However, questions which remain unanswered is how did the cost of the land escalate by almost 400 per cent in just a year? Media reports have questioned about discrepancies in Vadra’s balance sheet. Despite a payment of Rs 50 crore in advance for the land, why do Vadra’s balance sheets in March 2011 show both cash and land still in his company’s name? And why didn’t Vadra’s balance sheet reflect the Rs 50 crore advance for two years?
In another deal, DLF said Vadra paid Rs 11.9 crore for an apartment in Aralia. But why does his balance sheet show Rs 89.41 lakh as the purchase price, which a year later is valued at over Rs 11 crore?
DLF said that the company bought back Vadra’s stake in SEZ at the same value at which it was sold. But the question arises as why in falling market it DLF buy back Vadra’s stake at the same price. Another suspicion about the deal is if Vadra became a 50 per cent shareholder of DLF SEZ in October 2008, why did he exit the business a year later without any loss or gain? Another controversial point is what was Vadra’s influence in the market that made DLF invest so heavily in all his companies, also giving crores as advance.
Kejriwal alleged that the Haryana government had given undue benefits to DLF. He said that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had pointed at a “malafide nexus” between the two. Refuting the charges, the Haryana government clarified saying: “All permissions have been given according to rules. No land has been released in the last 10 years. No favour has been granted to the DLF.”
The India Against Corruption (IAC) member also alleged that the Haryana government had allotted over three-acre of land meant for hospital to DLF to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). He went on to say that Vadra was given as much as 50 per cent of stake in DLF’s SEZ company after one year.
“DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd was incorporated in 2.2.2007. Next year on 13.10.2008, M/s North India IT Parks Pvt Ltd (Robert Vadra group company) acquired almost 50 per cent of its shareholding. However, in subsequent year in 2009, this was sold back to DLF group. What role did he play in that one year when DLF SEZ was in Mr Vadra’s control,” alleged Kejriwal.
He further alleged that the Haryana government manipulated the bidding process saying the bids given by Unitech and Country Heights were not opened. Kejriwal also said that forest land was also given to the construction major by the state government.
Kejriwal said the amount of unsecured loan given by DLF to Vadra, which he had earlier claimed to be Rs 65 crore, was actually Rs 85 crore. The activist-turned-politician added that he was constantly getting letters and proofs from several people after his previous press conference.
In a statement, DLF said, “In the DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd, 50 per cent of shareholding was acquired by M/s North India IT Parks Pvt Ltd at the face value of Rs 2.50 lakh in October 2008. It was subsequently bought back in September 2009 fully at face value, as the proposal for developing SEZs could not take off due to deep recession. No benefit or gain was made by Mr Vadra or DLF, in this regard.”
Ordered by Sonia Gandhi, the entire Congress Party and the Congress ministers have joined hands to refute the charges. Finance Minister, P Chidambaram moved in swiftly to give a clean chit to Vadra by saying, “no probe is required into the allegations”. And it is obvious that the government of the day is in no mood to order a SIT probe into the allegations. And as for the questions raised by the national media time and again, mum is the word from mom-in-law.