Order probe

There is a no apparent link between the attack mounted by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Sonia Gandhi and that on her son-in-law Robert Vadra by India Against Corruption ((IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal. The first may have been inspired by electoral considerations, with Gujarat moving into the poll gear. The second may have been prompted by the idea of highlighting the anti-corruption theme of the new party launched by Kejriwal. While Modi’s charge that the government spent thousands of crores of rupees on Sonia Gandhi’s medical bills and foreign tours has lacked taste and has been found baseless, Kejriwal’s allegation cannot be dismissed as entirely personal or motivated. Vadra is part of the extended Gandhi family. Though he has a right to his privacy and the right to do business as any other citizen, he cannot escape scrutiny being a public figure and being close to persons wielding the levers of power.

The crux of the charge is that Vadra obtained unsecured loans amounting to Rs 65 crore from real estate major DLF to buy properties at throwaway prices ostensibly in return for or on promise of favours for the company in Congress-ruled states. The favours have not been clearly identified and so, if illegalities and improprieties were committed, the quid pro quo has not been established, at least as yet. But the information that has come light raises several questions about corporate governance in the company. If such norms have been violated, as probably they have, there have to be answers. The company’s explanations have been far from convincing and they have only raised more doubts on this score. There are also questions about the exponential growth of Vadra’s companies which seem to have flourished in a span of a few years, without enough justifying data.

These issues need to be clarified in public interest because of Vadra’s standing as a person relates to the Gandhi family. Outright rejections and threats of defamation suits are not enough. Ministers belonging to the Congress and the party’s leaders rallied to defend Vadra and the family immediately after the charge was aired. How could they be so sure as to make an outright denial? They would not have any knowledge of the actions of the company or of Vadra. There is the need for convincing explanations on the matters raised, rather than charges of conspiracy, and Vadra would do well to offer his companies’ activities for investigation to clear his name.

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