Congress’ son in law Robert Vadra is in trouble again. And of course his ma-in-law and the entire party is working overtime to protect this “protected species.” On March 12 Parliament failed to transact any business as the issue of land deals involving Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra rocked both Houses. Ma-in-law, Sonia Gandhi was present in the Lok Sabha when the BJP members trooped into the Well carrying a placard which said ‘Finance Minister, adopt the formula of son-in- law; earn sitting at home and reduce losses. The Congress party, whose main job is to protect and safeguard the family at the cost of the nation refused any discussion on the issue claiming that Robert is “private businessman.”
Congressmen wary of Vadra defence
In Congress circle, the leaders in hushed voices talk about the “private businessman” called Robert Vadra. This man’s family is originally from Sialkot, Pakistan. His father Rajendra moved here during the time of Partition. Rajendra Vadra ran a brassware export business in Moradabad. Vadra did his early education in Moradabad and then moved to Delhi. A Congress leader said that “in 1997, the year Vadra got married to Priyanka, he started Artex, a handicrafts and fashion accessories business. He diversified his business in 2007, acquiring land in Haryana and Punjab. Since then he has forayed into various sectors. Today he has stakes in the country’s biggest reality firm DLF and Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd (owned by Vadra and his mother Maureen Vadra). Robert Vadra also has a stake in Hilton Gardens, New Delhi.” And there’s more to this “private indidvidual”. He is exempted from security checks at all Indian airports. In a list with 30 entries displayed at all airports, “Shri Robert Vadra” is the only name; the rest are defined by ranks and posts like the President of India. He is covered by the Special Protection Group. His car is preceded by a pilot Gypsy with five Delhi police commandos and followed by another Gypsy. And a story on a website says that Rober Vadra “ has a penchant for bikes and bodybuilding. He often appears in fitness mags and is seen displaying his physique on his Facebook profile pictures. In 2011, he purchased top-end bikes — Hayabusa, Harley- Davidson and Ducati. He has an array of luxury cars, including a black 500 SEL Mercedes, a top-end BMW and a recently acquired Range Rover. He loves to party.”
CBI shows its teeth
Its a major setback for the UPA, the CBI and the Centre were at loggerheads on the Coalgate scam in the Supreme Court with the agency pointing out irregularities in the coal block allocation during UPA-I tenure and the Government vehemently refuting the allegations. In a status report filed by CBI in the scam, the agency said that the coal block allocation during 2006-09 was done without verifying the credentials of companies which allegedly misrepresented facts about themselves. A three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha, which went through the report filed in a sealed cover, said that the report prima facie alleges irregularities, but the Attorney General G E Vahanvati aggressively hit back on the finding saying, “CBI is not the final word on this”. Vahanvati, however, clarified that the Government has no problem with CBI probe and pleaded the court to supply him with some part of the probe report on which he would respond. The bench said the government should make a statement cautiously as it might affect the ongoing CBI probe in the case. “Any of your comments must not prejudice CBI inquiry in the case. If you are challenging the very conspiracy angle of the controversy, then it would affect the probe,” the bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar and Madan B Lokur, said. The bench further directed the government to explain why a small group of companies have been “picked and chosen” for allocation of coal blocks out of the large number of companies that applied for it. The court also asked the CBI Director to file an affidavit that the status report submitted by the agency on 8 March was “vetted by him and not shared with political executives” and the same will be followed in future. The court was hearing a PIL filed by various members of civil society including former CEC N Gopalaswami, ex-Navy chief L Ramdas and former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian and advocate M L Sharma seeking a SIT probe into the coal block allocation scam.
Weak on weaker sex
New rape laws are delayed again. Following differences in the Union Cabinet, the tough law against rape and other crimes was today referred to a Group of Ministers which held its first meeting and reported substantial progress in evolving a consensus. The Group of Ministers (GoM) is expected to finalise the task to pave the way for the Union Cabinet to consider the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 afresh. The Cabinet was divided over certain provisions pertaining to stalking, voyeurism and lowering the age of consensual sex to 16 years, as also the definition of rape.