DLF Ltd chairman K.P. Singh likes to tell the story of an encounter with former prime minister, the late Rajiv Gandhi. He repeats this in his book, Whatever The Odds: The Incredible Story Behind DLF.
According to this anecdote, back in the early 1980s, Singh was surveying some land in a then remote part of Gurgaon when he ran into Gandhi, whose jeep had broken down in the vicinity. To Gandhi’s query on what he was doing there, Singh recollects in his book that he said he was dreaming of a new city. That was the start of an enduring friendship, he says in his book.
Interestingly, DLF now finds itself in a spot over what seem like very altruism-minded transactions with Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra.
The allegations were carefully aired last year in a story in The Economic Times , but seem to have gathered momentum after being repeated, along with supporting documents by Arvind Kejriwal.
To call the story of the growth of Vadra’s business empire, detailed in a Page 1 story in The Hindu today, rags to riches would be stretching things a bit simply because there were no rags at its beginning. If anything, The Hindu’s description makes the business model of Vadra’s companies sound like a perpetual motion machine, with assets swelling despite no increase in business activity.
To be sure, Vadra himself has issued a clarification, and DLF has released to BSE a copy of the press release it issued on 6 October that seeks to refute the allegations against it and Vadra point, by point.
The release is detailed but still wanting. To offer one instance, as The Hindu story points out, it says the numbers in the documents released by Kejriwal pertaining to acquisitions of DLF properties by Vadra’s companies are wrong. But these numbers, as that story explains, are from the financial statements of Vadra’s own companies, which probably means DLF would do well to issue a clearer clarification.
Indeed, given the specific charges being levelled, both Vadra and DLF would do well to set the record straight.
To be sure—and this has been pointed out by several Congress spokespersons—there is also the issue of quid pro quo, and in this case, there doesn’t seem to be one, but that doesn’t take away from the need for both parties to come clean and explain the transactions.
Even if there is no wrongdoing in this particular instance, it will be interesting to unearth and then investigate similar transactions (with possible quid pro quos) between companies and other politicians and politically-connected individuals. Both the 2G and the coal scams are replete with instances of share transfers, inter-corporate loans, and other transactions that may have enriched corrupt politicians.