Vadra-DLF land deal: CAG report means nothing, says Cong; CM in no hurry to probe

Chandigarh: Will the BJP-led Haryana government pursue the Robert Vadra-DLF land deal aggressively or will it let it linger as a controversy open to political interpretation? Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is in no hurry to act while other BJP leaders want to step up the gas. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had recently faulted Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, stating that he reaped nearly Rs 44 crore in windfall gains because the Congress government in Haryana allowed him to do so even if it meant breach of law. What’s worse the Haryana government did not insist on recovering Rs 41.51 crore of the profit Vadra made by selling the land in question to DLF Universal.

While the Haryana BJP leaders, including Health Minister Anil Vij have been openly accusing Vadra of wrong deeds and threatening action against the guilty, the chief minister is on record saying that the BJP will not be vindictive towards anyone. "We promise to give a clean, transparent and honest government to Haryana," said Khattar. The Congress, on the other hand has come out in defence of Vadra and the Vadra-DLF land deal, saying there was nothing wrong in it at all.

 Vadra-DLF land deal: CAG report means nothing, says Cong; CM in no hurry to probe

Robert Vadra. Reuters.

The CAG recently said in the first draft report on land deals in Haryana under the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government that Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality Private Limited was allowed to develop commercial colony in Shikohpur, Gurgaon when it had just Rs 1 lakh in its account. The CAG report said that the department of Town and Country Planning ignored the aspect of the financial capacity of the colonizer. The same land was sold to DLF Universal for Rs 58 crore, with the Skylight Hospitality of Vadra making a profit of Rs 43.66 crore.

The draft CAG report pointed out the fact that under the bilateral agreement between the Haryana government and Skylight Hospitality require Vadra’s company to keep only Rs 2.15 crore and pass on the rest of the money to the government account. Incidentally, the Vadra’s company had spent Rs 14.3 crore, including Rs 7.5 crore for land purchase and Rs 6.84 crore on security and licence fees and conversion charges, so the rest of the 41.5 crore should have been accrued to the Haryana government’s account, which was not the case. Incidentally, the CAG report on Vadra was a part of a larger exercise undertaken by the agency to scrutinize land deals under the Hooda’s Congress government in Haryana.

Haryana IAS officer and the then Director General Consolidation, Ashok Khemka had alleged that the Rs 7.5 crore that Vadra used to buy land which he sold to DLF later, was also not his own as he had just Rs 1 lakh in his account. Khemka allegedly was put to a lot of harassment by the Hooda-led Congress government for cancelling the land mutation of the Vadra-DLF land deal for development of a commercial complex at the venue.

Speaking to Firstpost, Anil Vij, health minister of Haryana in the BJP government, said the CAG has already pointed out the discrepancies in the Vadra-DLF land deal and how Vadra made profit profit illegally instead of giving to the Haryana government according to rules. "The CAG report will now go to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which will examine it thoroughly. The Haryana government will then take necessary action in this regard," he said.

But the Haryana chief minister was non-committal on initiating investigation into the controversial land deal. "The BJP government’s priority in Haryana is to implement its agenda and not to run a vendetta campaign," said Khattar while talking to the media in Chandigarh. "Law would take its own course in the Robert Vadra land deal case," he said.

Earlier, the senior most ministers in the Khattar government, Ram Bilas Sharma, Finance Minister Capt Abhimanyu and Anil Vij had said that the BJP government would initiate inquiry into the Vadra-DLF land deal and other land scams of the previous Congress government in the state. The BJP had made the Vadra and other land deals cases a major campaign issue in the recently held assembly elections in the state, alleging that the Haryana government had allowed the conversion of land in question to benefit chosen developers. The BJP had promised people that the matter would be investigated minutely once the party came to power and the guilty will be punished. However, after the elections the ruling BJP seems to have gone a little soft on the whole issue.

Asked how would the Congress deal with the issue if the newly formed BJP government in Haryana ordered a probe into the Vadra-DLF land deal issue, Kuldeep Sharma, senior Congress leader and former Speaker of the state, said it was not at all an issue for the party. “You have yourself put a question mark over the matter by saying 'if' the government orders a probe. What will the government probe? The CAG has only come out with a draft report. What happened to the CAG report that claimed the central government had crores of rupees in the 2G scam or the coal block scam? The CAG report on the Vadra-DLF deal will meet the same fate," he said.

Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala lashed out at the BJP for unnecessarily questioning the deal in question. "Vadra is being hounded as part of political propaganda against the Congress," he said. On the issue of Vadra snapping at a reporter for asking question on the said land deal, Surjewala said it was unfair to hound him for an issue settled by the Supreme Court.

"It is clear that the entire episode (Vadra snapping at a reporter) is being propagated as a political agenda for obvious reasons. In this age of professional competition, hope the media will always continue to honour social mores as also balance out the freedom of speech with respect for individual privacy," he said.

According to TC Gupta, principal secretary, Town and Country Planning, Haryana, the CAG formed a wrong opinion about the Vadra-DLF land deal. "The department takes profit share from the colonizer, but after the completion the project. So far no colony has been developed on the land in question. Leave aside the Completion Certificate, even the Building Plan has not been approved so far. The entire matter has to be looked at in the fight perspective," Gupta said.

However, Leader of Opposition in the Haryana Assembly, Abhey Singh Yadav said all dubious land deals during the time of the previous Congress government must be thoroughly probed.

"We have been raising the issue all these years. During the recent elections too this became an issue. We demand action against the culprits in the welfare of the state and its people," said Abhey Chautala.

Updated Date: Nov 04, 2014 17:47:33 IST