Congress’ song and dance on Vadra – Ravi Shanker Kapoor

For how long would Congress leaders dodge uncomfortable questions about the party’s first family? Whether it is Congress president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s medical expenses or her son-in-law Robert Vadra’s sweetheart deals with realty major DLF, party leaders have not come up with convincing answers to the allegations made against the Dynasty.

Was Rs 1,880 crore spent on the illness of Sonia Gandhi, as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi alleged? Ruling party leaders merely denied the charge; they did not refute it by citing any authentic figures. Days after the controversy raged in the national Capital, it was the Prime Minister’s Office which officially rebutted Modi’s charge. The PMO said in a statement: “Media reports quoting certain quarters about massive expenses from the exchequer on the UPA Chairperson’s overseas visits have been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister’s Office. The reports quoting an expense of Rs 1,880 crore are untrue and misleading.” But again no details about the figures or the disease she suffered from.

Now that India Against Corruption (IAC) taxman-turned-activist-turned-politician Avind Kejriwal and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan have alleged that Vadra got kickbacks worth hundreds of crores of rupees from DLF, again Congress leaders have gone ballistic. Especially as Sonia Gandhi herself asked her party members to defend her son-in-law. Who could have defied her order in a party which deems even her wish as its command?

So, party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said, “All this looks planned before they launched their political party.” He was referring to Kejriwal’s forays into politics. Okay, Kejriwal & Co. are politicking, but does this mean that, just because of this fact, the allegations made by them have no substance? According to Bhushan, “Robert Vadra got a 10,000-sq-foot penthouse in DLF Aralia for Rs 85 lakh whose market value, when sold, was Rs 25 crore, and today its value is Rs 40 crore.” Are these facts or the figments of these activists’ imagination?

Congress MP from Delhi Sandeep Dikshit said, “It is wrong to drag a person who is not in politics. He is a businessman and it is wrong to make these allegations.” What kind of argument is this? Should only politicians be accused of corruption? Should a person be allowed to go scot-free despite wrongdoing, just because he “is not in politics”?

Another party spokesperson Manish Tewari linked the allegations with the oncoming Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections. “These are baseless misconceived and utterly irresponsible allegations, coming on the eve of the Gujarat and Himachal elections. It shows civil society groups are nothing else but the B team of BJP. It has exposed the unholy nexus between the two. People of the country are wise enough to see through these machinations.”

Where is the reasoned defence, Mr. Tewari? Why can’t you go beyond pro-forma, denial statements?

Not to be left behind in the show of loyalty to 10 Janpath, Congress leader Jayanti Natarajan said, “Since IAC has broken up and they are fighting within themselves, they are resorting to such claims to gain some cheap publicity.”

Following the dictum that offence is the best defence, she went on to question the integrity of Bhushan who had bought a property in UP in a government auction. But, Madam, how does Bhashan’s alleged impropriety acquit Vadra?

She also said that there is no proof against Vadra. But then Kejriwal and Bhushan don’t hold any government office, nor do they head a government investigating agency; they don’t have the resources and powers at their disposal to get proof. Why doesn’t the government allow an independent probe into the matter?

Kejriwal said, “Investigate us. Prove the allegations. Here we are producing documentary evidence but will the government do anything. We doubt it.”

In fact, Kejriwal and Bhushan should be prosecuted for defamation if their allegations are proved to be baseless. Why doesn’t the Congress-rule government do that? Unless Congress leaders come up with reasoned and evidence-based rebuttals of the charges hurled at the first family, its routine statements would not cut any ice with the people. They will surely score brownie points in competitive sycophancy and She-who-must-be-obeyed would feel happy. The electorate, however, would not be amused by their song and dance.

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