Arvind Kejriwal has hit the right notes with his attack on Robert Vadra’s real estate deals with DLF. On the one hand, the allegation has struck a blow to the heart of the Congress – the Gandhi family – but, on the other, he has also touched on the one issue in which no political party has been willing to take a tough stand: corruption related to land deals.
Politically, it is clear that Vadra, Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, is the Gandhi family’s Achilles’ Heel. Unlike the First Family itself, the public – or even the Congress party - has no love lost for this man who loves bikes and is a fitness freak.
Left to itself, the party would have left the allegations unanswered, since they concern a private person, but the Hindustan Times tells us that the Congress' spokespersons were pushed by defend Vadra by Sonia Gandhi herself.
One may recall that during the Uttar Pradesh elections, Robert Vadra had more or less indicated that he had political ambitions. In February this year, Robert Vadra, who organised mobike rallies in the state, told the media that if the people so desired, “I can come into politics,” as this Firstpost story noted.
Vadra was quoted as saying then: “Abhi Rahul ka time chal raha hai, phir Priyanka ka time aayega, phir parivar ke doosre…” (“This is Rahul’s time. After that will come Priyanka’s time – and also of other family members.”).
Quite apart from confirming what is known to everybody – that the Congress party is a family business – Vadra sent all Congresspersons scurrying for cover.
Unidentified Congress sources told a Kolkata newspaper: “Soniaji should ask him to shut up.”
Everyone in the Congress went to town to dismiss the idea of Vadra's entry into politics. This is what Priyanka herself said: “Look, you (media) must have asked him a twisted question and then misinterpreted the answer. Robertji is very happy and satisfied doing his business.”
But Priyanka's comment may this time come back to haunt her. If Vadra is "very happy" doing his business, the Kejriwal disclosure on his DLF land deals - will raise legitimate questions on what business he really is in and how legitimate it is.
The Vadra deals were first reported by The Economic Times but they didn't make waves given the conspiracy of political silence that enveloped it.
Even this time, Congressmen would actually have been happy to let Vadra stew in his own juice, but they are out in force to defend Vadra. Reason: a murky land deal is not something that will stick only to Vadra. It has the potential to taint the whole family.
Kejriwal has gone for the jugular, and if rival parties don’t watch out, he will get the media on his side for the public suspects that almost all politicians are into land deals.
As another Firstpost story said the other day, “land and property is where maximum corruption exits. By focusing on a real estate-based anti-corruption crusade, Kejriwal will find a responsive audience at both ends of the middle class….No less a person than Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told The Economist that there is a “deep nexus of property and political funding.”
If opposition parties like the BJP – which failed to take up the Vadra issue when it surfaced last year – do not take up the land mafia and land-related scandals, they are in danger of ceding the entire opposition space to Arvind Kejriwal.