Being Robert Vadra: The right antidote to absconders Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya

Any other individual in Robert Vadra's place wouldn't perhaps have given an interview to the same news agency which brought so much notoriety to him.

Sanjay Singh April 15, 2016 17:38:35 IST
Being Robert Vadra: The right antidote to absconders Lalit Modi, Vijay Mallya

Unlike the rest of the "mango man in Banana Republic", Robert Vadra has himself let the world know, that he was born with affluence and great talent.

He is right. A mango man in India never gets a chance to see a golf course, leave alone playing at the Delhi Golf Club and having the privilege of giving a television interview there about his life and times. Once Vadra was done with the interview, it was simply consumed voraciously in all forms of media -- television, print and digital. And he has a real gutsy attitude towards life, "you never say never", although this might be an indication about his intentions to join politics.

Being Robert Vadra The right antidote to absconders Lalit Modi Vijay Mallya

Robert Vadra. PTI

Any other individual in Vadra's place wouldn't perhaps have given an interview to the same news agency which brought so much controversy, so much notoriety to him. Remember Vadra's last sound bite on television, broadcast by ANI, whose mike he angrily pushed after asking four times in a very serious and intimidating tone "are you serious, are you serious?". While he walked off away from the camera, he was still audible, "Are you nuts? It is a mistake. Put your camera off. What's wrong with you?"

Time is a great healer, they say. So Vadra was back to ANI for a longish chat. This time around the questions were of his own choosing and place, of course where he is most comfortable, golf course. Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law and Priyanka Gandhi's husband surely has a great capacity to be in the headlines, whether or not they are of his liking.

In that interview Vadra gave that big takeaway that he didn't need to be Priyanka's husband or be son-in-law of the Congress' first family to enhance his life, make a name and allow a high society living for himself. Also that he may join politics in due course to shape policies to guide India's destiny.

"I didn't need my wife Priyanka to enhance my life. I have enough, I have always had enough. My father gave me enough. I have been educated enough to sustain in all types of situations," he said.

He also had a message for those who keep on arguing that he will flee from India if the BJP government at the Centre and in states like Haryana and Rajasthan put heat on him for his alleged corrupt land deals.

"I am born and brought up here. I would never leave my country even if I am humiliated. No matter what the government says, I have the ability to sustain and to absorb. I have a very strong and good family which
gives me strength."

That's so reassuring to the ordinary mango man in the country, to the high and mighty in the current ruling dispensation and to law enforcing agencies, particularly those dealing with economic offences ­that he is going to stay put here no matter what. He will not do a Lalit Modi or Vijay Mallaya act of vanishing from the country. He is bold enough to face situations as they may come. That's the kind of spirit, the least one would expect from a member of Nehru-Gandhi family which has ruled this country for 60 years since Independence.

But the question which is agitating minds of most people, including in the political spectrum, within and outside of Congress is that why did he particularly say, "I didn't need my wife Priyanka to enhance my life."

Was it an inadvertent statement which came out in the heat of the moment while explaining that he was a man in his own right and pursued his business path independent of his wife, without using the influence of his in-laws family and their party, the Congress? Or, he meant something else? He has given a food for thought to millions of Indians who love to make and indulge in unending discussions on informed or ill-informed speculations.

Family loyalists believe that it came out "inadvertently", unintentional words spoken only to suggest that his persona and his business is not beholden to his wife influence. Vadra could have lived the same flamboyant life style with or without someone with famed "Nehru-Gandhi" surname as his wife. Vadra should for once be credited for honest and candid chat, someone who wants to be on his own, be his own self.

Again to a question, will he join politics, Vadra says he will not join politics just because he belongs to a particular family but would respond his inner calling and requirement of times and of people. But the most loaded part came in four words, "you never say never". He went on to say "Jab meri calling hogi, mai farak la sakta hun, Ye logon ke liye kuch kar sakta hun (when I will have the inner calling, I can make the difference, when I can do something for these people) then I will join politics. How can I join politics just because I am part of a family you know. I will join politics only if I can make a difference...I understand my responsibility, where I am
and which family I am with and what they have done for generations...You never say never and let see what the future lies for me... I am sure it will be a bright future in politics or out of politics."

In October 2010 in an interview to Times of India published with a headline 'Don't know if I'll join politics, but I can win from anywhere', Vadra had said, "I can definitely win (an election) from anywhere but I am a businessman. Why politics? I should be known for what I am... There was huge demand for me to stand (from Sultanpur Lok sabha seat in 2009 parliamentary elections) but I was clear that it was not my place. I was being recognized only because of the family."

Unfortunately for Vadra his first tentative solo steps to get into electoral politics failed in the first week of February 2012 during Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election. It happened that he made a "surprise" landing in Amethi on 6 February 2012 during the thick of Assembly polls and took out a bike rally with his or Congress followers. While he was heading to the Salon area of the district, he was stopped by the police because he had not taken permission from the authorities to take out such a rally. He was told that he was violating election code of conduct. Vadra backed off. He returned from there, never to go there alone. He did go there with Priyanka when Rahul Gandhi was to file his nomination papers for 2014 parliamentary elections.

His 2012 bike rally had sparked off another controversy. The IAS officer, Pawan Saini, an Election Commission appointed poll observer, who had ordered his rally to be stopped was transferred to Goa very next day.

Though the Election Commission clarified that Saini's transfer order were in any case due for other reasons, it remained talking point for long and possible motives that could have guided the move.

This writer was in Amethi then and the people there kept talking about it all the time. "Maa, Beta, Beti, Bacche aur ab damad bhi" (Mother, son, daughter and now the son-in-law) was the common refrain.

There were speculations that "the family" had asked Vadra to return from Amethi and keep off from there. Lakshmi Iyer, a seasoned correspondent on Congress, wrote in Mumbai Mirror, "It now appears that it was not the gutsy Election Commission officer Pawan Saini, who stopped Robert Vadra's bike rally in Amethi on February 7. Rather, behind-the-scene string pulling by the Gandhis themselves brought Vadra¹s rally, and his political dreams, to an abrupt halt."

The final result proved to be nightmare for Congress ­as it had lost all but two assembly seats in Sonia and Rahul Gandhi's parliamenary constituencies of Raebareli and Amethi. In most places Congress became third. In neighbouring Pratapgarh and in Sultanpur parliamentary constituencies where Vadra was requested to fight in 2009, Congress
barely managed to secure one seat.

But no one should undermine Vadra's talent. For those who don't know much about him, should take a note of his own words that he was good in studies and games in school and tells his children that they must score 90-95 percent marks. He has done management courses and was "too talented" to be confined in a factory in Moradabad. Vadra had to be a mover and shaker in the wonder world.

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