Clumsy cover-up

The sudden transfer of Ashok Khemka, Haryana’s top land officer, who ordered an inquiry into Robert Vadra’s property dealings in the state, shows the state government’s uneasiness over the matter. The government’s explanation that the transfer was routine and was ordered before Khemka looked into the dealings has not been convincing. He started the process of investigation days before he was issued the transfer order and this points to a causal link between the two. He had held office in the position only for three months and a transfer would have been due only after two years. The fact that he was transferred 40 times in the last 20 years shows that either he is a maverick or how inconvenient he has become for the political masters in successive governments. He has obviously refused to meet the unfair or illegal demands of governments. The latest transfer is also indicative of the state government not wanting to pursue the matter he was seized of. 

The Congress leadership’s argument that Vadra’s dealings in Haryana are those between a private individual and a company defies logic. Being member of the Gandhi family gives an element of public interest to his actions. Vadra and his companies have amassed huge wealth, to a degree not possible for a common private citizen to achieve, with their dealings with DLF in Haryana. There is also evidence that irregularities were committed by government officials. There is suspicion of undervaluation of properties bought and sold by Vadra. It has not been proved conclusively that Vadra is guilty of wrong-doing. But the facts that have come out in the public realm create reasonable doubts that all the dealings were not regular.

The truth can come out only through an independent enquiry. The Haryana government’s promise of an inquiry sounds hollow. With its action against Khemka it has shown that it is an interested party, keen to avoid scrutiny rather than to investigate the matter. The Congress should shed the public posture that Vadra’s dealings are not its concern. It is a contradiction that while maintaining this position, party and government leaders are claiming that Vadra has not done anything wrong. When a charge of corruption or misconduct is made, those who are involved or their supporters first deny it. Later a stage is reached when public pressure forces an investigation. It is in the interest of Vadra, the Congress and the government that a credible investigation is launched at the earliest.

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