'How does charge against Vadra reflect bad governance?'
India Against Corruption on Friday accused Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, of acquiring properties worth hundreds of crores from nothing.
Speaking on the issue, political commentator and the author of 'Sonia A Biography', Rasheed Kidwai, tells Rediff.com's Priyanka that the accusations don't reflect state craft and whether or not government funds were misused.
What is your first reaction to the charges leveled by Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan against Robert Vadra?
I don't get what their objective is. He is a private person and not a political entity. I see that a yet-to-be-formed political party is making allegations against a private person. What is the impact of making such charges? They have not said if this has caused a loss to the exchequer. They are not saying that government funds have been misused. How are these charges a reflection of bad governance on the part of the government?
He is a private citizen who is doing his business. I don't understand how the charges made by Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan are related to the state craft.
There are serious charges of amassing wealth worth Rs 300 crores. There are also questions as to why DLF would give property to Robert Vadra at a cost much less than the market price.
I am not defending Robert Vadra. He should be held accountable. But they (India Against Corruption) have not shown or proven how official machinery was misused.
He is entitled to do his business however he may wish to. He doesn't need anyone's permission. What kind of crime are we talking about here? If this is an issue about morality, then one should also talk about Ranjan Bhattacharya (Former prime minister Vajpayee's foster son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya) and others.
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Image: Rahul, Sonia Gandhi, Robert Vadra and Priyanka in Rae Bareli, UP
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters
'I think these charges are very frivolous'
In your opinion, why did Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan make such allegations? What do you make of these charges?
When one embarks on a path, the first actions show our intent. These are times when so many questions are being raised on the credibility of the political class. We hear people related to the political class benefitting.
But when such a thing has happened then law should take its own course. How is this reflection on the UPA?
As a writer and a political commentator, I think these charges are very frivolous. They are not related to the issue of governance or political governance. There are hundreds of businessmen out there, and many of whom have grown over the years. They too have been a part of India's success story. If he is part of some white collar irregularities, I am sure there are legal ways to deal with it.
Whatever comes in the public domain, people should question it. But I don't see how this means that everything about UPA is wrong. It does not reflect the UPA.
Arvind Kejriwal has every right to express himself. It is a free country. He has the right to raise an issue. But with a disclosure he wants to corner the entire Congress party.
What would you have liked him to disclose about?
I would have liked to see something more substantive out of this press conference, like proof of a government minister causing loss to the exchequer. I am not defending Robert Vadra, but I don't think this is a grave issue, nor does this reflect state craft and the functioning of the government.
I had expected something shaper and more focused. It is only half the story. If these are mere white collar irregularities, which every third citizen, other than Anna Hazare, is involved in.
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'If he wants to run for elections, it's his decision'
The simple allegation is that Robert Vadra benefitted in business contracts because he is related to the Gandhi family. Your comments?
There is a political way of looking at it. He is married to a person who holds a very important position in a political party. Having observed it closely, I can say that in real life people closely associated with political figures are under immense pressure. Their life -- public and private -- is always under scrutiny. Their every move is watched very closely. Even Feroze Gandhi had to experience the same pressures. His life and path were not easy. In fact, there was an awkward moment between him and then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru when a Cabinet minister had to resign after he brought him under the net.
They (Robert Vadra) have always lived under a veil of secrecy. And if they (IAC) feel there have been irregularities then they can always go to the court, file RTIs.
But there isn't much about Robert Vadra and how he conducts his business in the public domain. What is your reading?
I haven't spoken much with Robert Vadra. They are very private people.
Is he inclined towards entering politics? He had commented while on a campaign trail in Amethi and Rae Bareli that he could contest if the people so desired?
I can't say if he has any political ambitions. He had visited Rae Bareli and Amethi before the Uttar Pardesh assembly polls only this year. I don't remember him taking part in active politics otherwise.
Well, as a private citizen, if he wants to run for elections, it's his decision, and he has every right to decide.
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Image: A political rally in Amethi
Photographs: Pawan Kumar/Reuters
'Issue now before the people of India, and they will judge'
How will these allegations impact the Gandhi family?
The Gandhi family has obviously been put in an awkward situation. On one hand, there is an instinct trying to protect a family member and on the other hand, public sentiments are also involved here.
However, neither Sonia Gandhi, nor Rahul Gandhi or Priyanka Vadra have been involved in any personal scandal. That itself says a lot about the them.
What do you think will happen next?
He will explain. It is now before the people of India, and they will judge.
What do you think was lacking in Arvind Kejriwal's press brief?
They should have shown how it is related to direct policy making, or whether it has caused loss to the exchequer. But all these charges are outside government and hence it becomes of lesser magnitude.
What do you think Robert Vadra would do next?
He can file for defamation or he may choose to ignore it. Only he can tell what he will do. But since this is now in the public domain, the response to it might also come publically.
They are trying to create an impression that the political class is indulging in something wrong at all times. And this is not the case. The government is doing very good at many fronts.
Image: Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, with their mother Sonia Gandhi, and Robert Vadra, Priyanka's husband