New Delhi: Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal disclosed fresh evidence to back his accusations against Robert Vadra , son-in-law of Congress party president Sonia Gandhi , and accused the Haryana government of favouring property developer DLF Ltd , putting corruption-related issues back at the centre of the political debate.
Kejriwal, who last week alleged that Vadra had purchased properties worth more than Rs.300 crore using “unsecured interest free loans from DLF”, produced more documents on Tuesday saying that the Haryana government had favoured DLF and gave it 350 acres of land in the state, cancelled a land acquisition in Manesar to favour the company and increased the floor area rate for it in the government’s Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex Plan.
Addressing the media, along with former law minister and activist Shanti Bhushan, Kejriwal demanded a white paper on relations between the Haryana government and DLF. “We demand that a white paper should be prepared by the government of Haryana listing all the favours done by the government to DLF group,” he said.
North India IT Parks Pvt. Ltd, a company belonging to Vadra’s group, had acquired almost 50% of DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt. Ltd, according to Kejriwal. It was sold back to the DLF group after a year.
He alleged that Vadra, influential in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), obtained undue benefits from the company.
“This is a fit case for a detailed scrutiny under Income- Tax Act,” he said,
While the Congress party denied the accusations and questioned the authenticity of the documents, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asked the ruling party to stop defending Vadra.
“How does one know whether the documents produced are genuine or not. If the law has been violated, the government will do its job and act but if these people stand up in front of the media, that is not the correct way,” Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said.
BJP’s Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Congress is not going to take any step. Investigations are too much to expect.”
Haryana government rejected Kejriwal’s allegation that land meant for setting up a hospital was released in favour of DLF. Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh, director general of Haryana town and country planning department T.C. Gupta said the land had been released to East India Hotels Ltd more than 16 years back and the permission was granted to it to sell it to DLF “after following due process of law”.
“No land belonging to the government or Haryana Urban Development Authority was allotted or transferred to either DLF Ltd or East India Hotels Ltd,” he said.
DLF in a statement said, “We stand by our earlier statement and wish to once again specifically state that DLF has neither sought nor enjoyed any special favours from the government of Haryana and all developments of DLF undertaken over the last four decades are strictly in compliance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations with an adherence to the highest ethical standards.”
“Kejriwal’s allegations largely centre around issues which are already in the public domain and are well disclosed. It is unfortunate that an attempt is being made to sensationalize the same,” it said.
Political observers say Kejriwal’s charges have brought the issue of corruption back to the forefront.
“No matter how much one tries to distract and divert attention, the next election is going to be fought on the issue of corruption,” said Sandeep Shastri, political analyst and pro vice-chancellor, Jain University, and director, International Academy for Creative Teaching at Bangalore. “That’s the reason Kejriwal is focusing on corruption at the highest (levels) of the Congress party. Indians have started believing that not only those who are in power, but those who are close to them also should be above corruption.”
The developments are “compelling other political parties to take a stand against the Congress”, Mumbai-based political analyst Jai Mrug said.
By keeping the issue of corruption alive, Kejriwal and his group are trying to take over the space of the main opposition, experts said.
“BJP has not been able to maximize the benefits of charges against the Congress. It may be too early to say that Kejriwal has occupied that space. But he is trying to make a splash with an issue which is considered as a serious issue by people,” Shastri said.
Mrug said the allegations against Vadra and the Gandhis have opened up a new political debate as “institutionalized parties do not breach the unstated covenant of not attacking families”. Mrug added: “They have taken away the limelight from the BJP and are able to set the agenda.”