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Robert Vadra: No one should take advantage of my position

Last updated on: December 31, 2009 12:56 IST

'I tell myself, he is not looking at me but at the family'


In an exclusive cover interview to PEOPLE magazine, businessman Robert Vadra talks about his life, his loves, his passions and how he keeps it real for himself and his family.

"You know when I am in this position, every big business house will come and meet me and it would be so easy for me to go back with a big head," he tells the magazine, which hits the news-stands on January 1, 2010. "But I tell myself, he is not looking at me. He is looking at the other side of the family. So let's keep it right and not get carried away."

In the interview, Robert speaks of meeting, falling for and marrying Priyanka. "I thought she was interested in me," he says, with a smile, of the days when they were both students at the British School in Chanakyapuri, New Delhi. Priyanka was three years his junior.

After finishing school, Robert studied business management and spent time in Moradabad learning about the family business. He and Priyanka met infrequently but their friendship grew. "We would talk a lot and we got closer. But I did not want anyone to know because people would not understand or accept it and somehow they would give it different connotations," he says.

Image: Rahul, Sonia Gandhi, Robert Vadra and Priyanka in Rae Bareli, UP
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters

'What I liked about Priyanka was her simplicity'

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That's where he finds common ground with Priyanka. "What I liked about Priyanka was her simplicity," he says in the interview, recalling the initial attraction.

"She is not into brands, so my gifts to her are things like books and music. Right now she is doing her Master's in Buddhism, so I gift her books on Buddhism." And while he's enjoying parenthood, it's Priyanka who is hands-on with the kids Raihan, 9, and Miraya, 7. "I work to pay the family bills -- Priyanka is not working. And I crib sometimes when the bills are too high," he says, with a laugh.

When they decided to marry, there was no proposal on bended knees. "We just talked about it and then our families met and it was all okay," he tells PEOPLE. Robert, who calls himself a romantic, says his most precious memory of that day is of watching his wife. "Priyanka looked beautiful."

Life after the wedding wasn't as simple. "I had new responsibilities [to Priyanka's family] and I was clear that no one should take advantage of my position," he says, revealing to the magazine that he is very particular about keeping the boundaries sacrosanct. "I have driven myself bananas with this."

His clarity of intent extends to his attitude towards the family's political interests as well. "Our boundaries are very clear. I go to Parliament when my mother-in-law or Rahul is giving an important speech but I don't tell them who should be in the Cabinet just like they don't tell me who to employ in my business," says Robert, who is happy to campaign for the family. He has no political plans of his own, at this point. "I have huge commitments with my business for the next few years. If politics has to come let it come at the right time," he says.

For now, he is totally focussed on building his business. "People try, try, try to find a weak spot but I don't have that," he says, with pride. "My needs are not much. I am not looking at an MP on my calling card or a huge bank balance."

Image: Robert Vadra (left) as Priyanka speaks to the media
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters
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'We prefer active holidays, and enjoy scuba-diving'


Also in the PEOPLE interview, Vadra shares his fitness regimen.

On being fit at 40

Yes, I think I'm fitter than I've ever been. People generally notice that I'm a lot slimmer and fitter than before.

On combining his gym routine with other forms of exercise

I don't do yoga, though at some point I tried it. I generally go to the gym for my strength training but enjoy cycling, running and other outdoor sports for the cardio aspect of my workout.

On his fitness inspiration  

I've never really looked towards anyone in particular as an inspiration for fitness. But a celebrity I admire is Sachin Tendulkar -- he is as fit and overall healthy as his sport requires him to be. He is also the most stable person I know and totally unselfconscious of his fame.

On taking his family on sporty holidays

Yes, we do prefer active holidays. Priyanka and I enjoy scuba-diving. She is a free diver as well, so we often go to the seaside for our holidays. Both our kids enjoy snorkelling and my son Raihan has already done the very first stage of scuba-diving. We also enjoy river-rafting, going on safaris, etc. This year [2009] one of our friends got us to try racing Formula One cars, and that was fun too.

On Priyanka and him working out together

Priyanka actually doesn't work out so we don't gym together.

On his workout goal

To have the strength to control my mind, be healthy and look good.

Image: Robert Vadra with his son Rehan
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters