Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan of India Against Corruption (IAC) accused Robert Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, on Friday of amassing properties worth over Rs300 crore through corrupt land deals.
They alleged that real estate firm DLF sold him prime land in Delhi and nearby areas at throwaway prices while giving him interest-free loan. Vadra’s wealth grew from Rs50 lakh to more than Rs300 crore in three years, according to the activists.
The allegation triggered a political storm with Congress terming it “baseless and utterly irresponsible” and senior leaders like Salman Khurshid and Jayanti Natrajan launching a counter attack while the BJP demanded an investigation into the matter.
Gandhi issued a statement that Vadra was a businessman and he had done no wrong.
“If they have any evidence, why don’t they go to the courts?” Rashid Alvi, party spokesperson, asked.
Congress spokesperson Ma-nish Tewari said, “Coming ahead of Gujarat and Himachal elections, this shows the civil society groups are... it is nothing more than a B-Team of the BJP.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad, BJP spokesperson, said, “The role of Congress-ruled state governments too should be investigated.”
Bhushan said, “Vadra was provided interest-free unsecured loan of Rs65 crore by DLF, with which six companies controlled by Vadra bought properties worth Rs300 crore. Most of these properties were in Congress-ruled states and belonged to DLF.”
An analysis of the balance sheets and audit reports of Vadra’s companies (owned exclusively by him and his mother) show the total share capital was just Rs50 lakh in November 2007. “In three years they acquired properties that are worth more than Rs500 crore today,” he said. “An auditor who looked at the balance sheets said none of these companies were involved in any other business activities during these years.”
Initially, Vadra’s wife Priyanka too was part of some of his companies. She later quit. Kejriwal and Bhushan said the information had been sourced from the registrar of companies.
Citing the example of Sky Light Realty Private Limited, a company owned by Vadra, that bought a 10,000 square feet apartment in DLF Aralias, Gurgaon (Haryana), for Rs89 lakh whose market value at the time of purchase in 2010 was Rs25 crore, the activists said the current value was about Rs40 crore.
In another instance, seven flats were bought by the same company at DLF Magnolia, Gurgaon (Harayana), for Rs5.2 crore. Bhushan and Kejriwal alleged that the market value of these flats at the time of purchase was in the range of Rs35-70 crore. At present it is in the range of Rs105-175 crore.
They alleged that the Congress-led Haryana government had given nearly 350 acres of land to DLF for this project. The land had been acquired by the state government from farmers on the pretext of doing some industrial projects.
“Is that the quid pro quo for DLF giving Vadra the seed money for the purchase of these massive properties worth hundreds of crores?” Bhushan asked. “A stake of 50% share in the DLF-owned hotel in Saket [DLF Hilton Garden Inn] is shown to be bought for Rs32 crore when the market value was well over Rs150 crore.”
Bhushan said these revelations could be just the tip of the iceberg. Prima facie the facts show commission of offences under the prevention of corruption act as well offences under the income tax act. “Why are these not being investigated?” he asked.
Bhushan said there is no agency in the country that can independently investigate such matters. “That is why one needs an independent Lokpal,” he said. (With inputs from agencies)