The Bharatiya Janata Party chose not to raise any protests when their demand to raise Robert Vadra’s suspect land deals was not considered by Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari. In the Lok Sabha too, the party's response to the charges was muted. Anita Katyal reports.
The allegations against Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra over his questionable land deals figured in Parliament on Monday but the Bharatiya Janata Party’s attack was decidedly weak. The BJP is not likely to pursue the matter vigorously on Tuesday either and the issue is expected to die down without creating any major ripples.
On record, the BJP maintains its protests over IAS officer Ashok Khemka’s allegations against Robert Vadra would be raised in Parliament on Tuesday but its leaders privately admit that the protest will, at best, be a token one as they cannot be seen to be soft-pedalling this issue.
“What’s the point of persisting with this matter when the government is not going to allow any discussion on it,” a senior BJP leader told rediff.com.
Khemka has alleged that Vadra had submitted “false documents” for a 3.53 acre plot in Gurgaon and "pocketed" large premium on a commercial colony license.
When the reports first came out on Saturday, the BJP had upped the ante and demanded a probe into these charges.
"Whatever facts have come in the public domain, it is a serious issue. Congress owes an explanation. This is not a private matter. When there are charges of falsification, it needs to be properly investigated," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar had said.
That the BJP was not in a mood to escalate its offensive was evident in the manner in which developments unfolded in Parliament today. Both Houses were adjourned for an hour in the morning over the twin issues of Vadra’s land deals and the incidents of communal violence in Kishtwar town in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, a host of other issues like the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the solar scam in Kerala were raised by the Left parties and the protesting Telugu Desam Party members during the din, taking away the focus from the Vadra land deals.
When Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari allowed leader of opposition Arun Jaitley to make a statement on Kishtwar, the BJP was happy to go along with his decision. The BJP did not raise any protests when their demand to raise the Vadra issue was not considered by the chairman.
In the Lok Sabha, the BJP backed off when aggressive Congress members hit back by asking the opposition party to explain its veteran leader L KAdvani’s daugther Pratibha Advani’s land acquisitions in Gujarat.
“How could we say we don’t want to discuss Kishtwar and would rather take up the Vadra issue first,” said a senior BJP leader, pointing out that Arun Jaitley was stopped from entering Kishtwar on Sunday.
In fact, Congress, also, succeeded in persuading the opposition to pass a pending bill on registration of births and deaths, which was followed by a marathon discussion on Telangana.
The BJP’s response to the Vadra charges has been muted ever since these reports first surfaced over a year ago. Although a section in the BJP wanted to raise the pitch on the issue as it gave the principal opposition party an opportunity to target Sonia Gandhi personally, the leadership was reluctant to do so. It decided to stick by the unwritten code among political parties that they should not attack each other’s relatives. Many BJP leaders and even the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was said to be unhappy with this hands-off approach of New Delhi-based senior leaders of BJP.
The BJP dropped its restraint and attempted to embarrass the Congress when it forced adjournments in both Houses of Parliament last March to protest against Vadra’s land scams, demanding a CBI probe into the charges. It was then expected that the protests would escalate but, once again, the issue died down after a day.
On its part, the Congress is not overly worried on this issue. It has always maintained that Parliament could not discuss this matter since Vadra is a private individual. The Congress has left it to the Haryana government to respond to the reports that have been appearing in the media.
Party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said the state government has already issued a clarification. “I am sure the state government is addressing this issue,” she said, adding the Haryana government knows how to manage its affairs and it should not be dictated to.
The UPA government is more concerned about pushing through its pending legislative agenda which has got derailed because of constant disruptions in Parliament. It has convened an all-party meeting on Tuesday to see how it can pass its key bills in the current session slated to close on August 30.
The legislations flagged by the ruling coalition include the Food Security Bill, the Land Acquisition Bill, the bill to keep political parties out of the ambit of the RTI Act and a proposed bill overriding a recent Supreme Court order banning convicted candidates from contesting elections.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath will seek to build a consensus on these priority legislations at Tuesday’s meetings.