‘Robert Vadra may prove the chink in the Nehru-Gandhi armour’, says N.V. SUBRAMANIAN.
Although following the Godfather, Don Corleone’s injunction to keep the son-in-law away from the main family business, Sonia Gandhi has been landed in much trouble and considerable embarrassment by Robert Vadra. His sweetheart deal with DLF will have to be probed sooner or later and it will not leave the news headlines until then.
Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan who have trapped Vadra and DLF in a slow-motion drama where they will eventually implicate one another have been smart to keep the allegations at the level of politics without approaching the courts. Once matters reach the courts, they become sub judice, and Congress is great at fixing the judiciary. For once, Subramanian Swamy is not active, and Congress should worry on that count.
The Nehru-Gandhi-Vadras have generally enjoyed respectful and deferential coverage by the media, which thinks nothing of tearing into other politicians, especially someone like Narendra Modi. Sonia Gandhi’s mysterious illness, for example, has not been the subject of serious investigation. This is not a privacy issue, because the health of the country’s most powerful person is a national concern (whether or not you like her), since it relates to political-governmental stability.
The Capital, similarly, has been full of stories about Vadra, and they have circulated some wild allegations against him. Except for one business daily last year, nobody has probed Vadra with diligence, if only to clear his name. Such mollycoddling by the media of the Congress’s first family perhaps removed the fear of future scrutiny, which explains the shock and rage of the party’s spokespersons and ministers at Kejriwal and Bhushan’s charges against Robert Vadra. Salman Khursheed, the former Oxford don, lost all his temperateness and polish when he threatened to teach Kejriwal “a lesson” “in the law”.
But why blame the media alone? The political class has shown no alacrity to question the Vadra-DLF goings-on. The first response of CPI-M and CPI was to face away from the allegations, until goaded by the press to take note of them. Ditto for BJP, the so-called party with a difference. Earlier this year, a senior RSS functionary told this writer that the central BJP leadership was beholden to big money like Congress.
“There is no difference between them, “he said, taking names. BJP has not opposed the massive power tariff hike in the Capital, daylight brigandage, on the scale of Kejriwal & Co., with a former regulator accusing the principal opposition party of collusion with one of the distributing companies. If Kejriwal’s new party cuts massively into BJP’s votes, BJP will have only itself to blame. By its silence, BJP has gone against public opinion.
The only BJP politician who has ridden against the current, and grown leaps and bounds in consequence, is Modi. Modi has attacked the Nehru-Gandhis such as no one has. There is of course a history to it. Modi has been vilified by Congress and by Sonia Gandhi personally (“Maut ka Saudagar”), and he has vituperated against the family with equal vigour.
There is also political strategy backing Modi’s campaign. By attacking the Nehru-Gandhis, he hopes to get national billing. On her recent visit to Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi refused to be baited by Modi, but by questioning the secrecy surrounding her medical visits abroad, and the expenditures incurred by the government on them, the Gujarat chief minister got himself prime time.
Indeed, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan (not in the way that Congress spins) may have to thank Modi for getting their charges against Robert Vadra so much media and political traction. Certainly, the loot-maar of UPA has made the country receptive to believing the worst about the Manmohan Singh government.
But Narendra Modi’s contribution has been to lift the veil off the Nehru-Gandhis, and the social media has taken up his cause with a vengeance, putting paid to efforts of the mainstream media to keep the family in purdah. Now India Against Corruption has brought the Nehru-Gandhi-Vadras under full-scope scanner, and they cannot duck and weave out of this calamity.
Modi and to an extent Arvind Kejriwal are rewriting the rules of politics, and more power to them. Sons and daughters and the extended family have become the bane of Indian politics. If you notice, the most promising regional leaders are without active family commitments, such as Modi, Nitish Kumar, Mamata Bannerjee, and Naveen Patnaik. Nearly no central leader of any party can boast their clean image, with the possible exception of Arun Jaitley, but he also subscribes to the politics of “leave families alone”. It puts him in the unfortunate bracket of Sharad Pawar and Laloo Prasad Yadav, men of shining honesty who have given clean chits to Robert Vadra. What monsters we have brought to power.
(N.V. Subramanian is Editor, www.newsinsight.net and writes on politics and strategic affairs)