by Aakar Patel Oct 9, 2012 10:13 IST
Saari Khudai ek taraf,
Joru ka bhai ek taraf
In the Bollywood saying, with all of creation on one side, the wife's brother alone on the other side is of equal value.
Robert Vadra has weighed the options and, unfortunately for the Nehru-Gandhi family, picked saari khudai over his joru ka bhai.
The one asset that Sonia Gandhi built for her dynasty from the time she became its head was an image of reticence and service. She refused to become prime minister, her daughter Priyanka rejected the idea of contesting elections, and son Rahul remains reluctant to take on executive power in government. He would rather be someone who works with the grassroots. This image might have been built on selfish needs rather than selfless ones.
For instance we had a hysterical Sushma Swaraj threatening to tonsure her head (a disturbing thought) if Sonia took office, and it is true that Priyanka still has the chance to come in, and it is true that Rahul Gandhi wields extraordinary power even without being a minister. But it is also true that the image of the family has held.
At least till now.
The damage that Vadra has wrought on Rahul Gandhi’s image as a well-meaning man, with none of the regular interests of Indian politicians (lining their pockets) will not be undone easily.
Nehru-Gandhi ka “naam poora mitti main milai diya,” as one Gabbar said. It doesn't matter what Vadra says in his defence. He cannot normalize the transactions he has had with real estate giant DLF in the eyes of the media. I've been a businessman and can tell you that it is unheard of that a company will offer 65 crore rupee advances to a “partner” doing business on the company’s capital. There is absolutely no question that it is not an "industry practice" to hand over unsecured money of such sums.
The real question is what this money was advanced for, and though I am naïve I can see it's not because it made great business sense.
I suspect that ministers who line up to defend the Gandhis before even the facts have come out are unlikely to reject a “request” made by the family’s members or their business partners. This is the truth in India, where relationships have always meant much more than propriety.
Vadra says the allegations by Arvind Kejriwal are defamatory. I'll wait for the case to be filed but I suspect it won't be. If it is, it won't be pursued.
The other thing is the language that Vadra has used in his defence. He says that Kejriwal’s action is an attempt to “manufacture lies against me and malign me and my family in order to gain cheap publicity and for the launch of their political party".
This is not the language of a person who is wronged. It is the language of someone who is defensive. And it is political language. If Vadra doesn’t know this, and said this in error, he is not the brilliant person that DLF clearly seems to think he is when they loaned him that money.
To maintain their image as clean politicians, and they still have it, the Gandhi family must without delay set up an investigation into Vadra’s business deals. It must be independent of the government, and even if it doesn’t satisfy the opposition (it won’t), it must satisfy the media which is also, quite validly, asking the same questions now that Kejriwal is.
If it fails to do this, the Gandhi family can kiss its aura goodbye. This means that the gentle treatment they receive from the media, and reverence, will be a thing of the past. Ghar jamaais in India usually mean trouble, and Vadra has just delivered a massive load of it on his in-laws’ doorstep.
Priyanka Gandhi apparently fell in love with Vadra because as children he treated her as any other girl. A normal person and not one from such hallowed lineage. Somehow, I don't think that's how his partners in DLF see her.
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