File Photo
File Photo

We didn’t expect Priyanka Vadra not to defend her beleaguered husband. Without her own complicity in the money-making rackets of Vadra when his mother-in-law was the boss of the Manmohan Singh Government Vadra could not have taken bribes and commissions for selling governmental favours. From a small-time brassware dealer from Moradabad, UP, before his marriage into the Gandhi family, Vadra would not have grown enormously wealthy. He sold favours to all and sundry provided the bribe ran into multiple of tens of crores.

One of the first case that came to light, mind you, when the UPA was going strong, concerned the purchase of a huge tract of agricultural land with the money loaned by the biggest real estate company in the country. Overnight, the Bhupider Singh Hooda government changed the land-use of the land Vadra had purchased with money borrowed from agriculture to commercial. A little later, Vadra sold the land to the same real estate company at a hefty profit of some Rs 50-odd crores. This was a scam pure and simple.

Later, the same real estate company very generously transferred the ownership of a newly-built five-star hotel in a pricey South Delhi commercial hub to Vadra for virtually a pittance. Emboldened by the manner in which he was filling his coffers with illicit millions, Vadra now felicitated a deal connected with the Petroleum Ministry. His reward was a huge pay-off deposited in a UAE-based postbox entity which soon transferred the loot to Vadra’s company. It was the same method employed to purchase plum properties in the heart of London.

It is the claim of the Enforcement Directorate that in all it has traced some half-a-dozen properties in London with a cumulative cost of over Rs one hundred crores. Apparently, the investigative agency got a lucky break when while investigating the fugitive arms dealer, Sanjay Bhandari, it found emails between Vadra and Bhandari’s point person in London, one Chaddha. In one exchange, Chaddha asked Vadra to arrange the funds for the renovation of a palatial flat purchased for GBP 1.9 million as the suppliers of materials had all been tied up.

In turn, Vadra replies that the next morning he would speak to the relevant person to remit the money in Chadhha’s account. This is clinching evidence of his laundering of bribes in various deals conducted by selling government favours. Likewise, the agencies have zeroed in at least six other properties in London.

Again, the fact that the notorious arms dealer, Sanjay Bhandari, who fled the country when summoned by the CBI to investigate his overnight riches — he owned a homeopathy shop in Delhi but on realising that big money lay in deal-making latched on to Vadra — was at the heart of the Vadra operation underlines how deep ran the tentacles of the Vadra-specific scam.

As for his wife, one Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, standing by him in his hour of accounting by the law, the question is whether she had any other choice. He could not have done those deals without the express consent of his wife. Besides, the enormous wealth amassed through illicit means was at the disposal of the entire family and not Vadra alone. If any doubt still persists on this count, couldn’t his wife chastise him from piling on further on the Gandhi family’s dozens of money-making scams.

Frankly, there is lot more at stake for Mrs Vadra and her family than for Vadra himself. If the investigations are brought to their logical conclusion, the Gandhi family and not its wayward son-in-law would once again stand guilty in the court of public opinion, though in the courts of justice they may exploit everything to prolong the day of judgement.

The fact that this is the first government in free India which has gone with vengeance to bring to book all law-breakers including big-time bank loan defaulters, realtors who have looted hard-earned savings of millions of middle class Indians, tax thieves among professionals, including high-profile lawyers doubling as party spokesmen, etc, ought to be welcome by every hard working Indian who struggles to feed his family.

Hopefully, Vadra’s interrogation by the ED will remove even an iota of doubt about his racketeering, notwithstanding pro forma denials by the newly-minted general secretary of the Congress Party.

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