Who cleared Robert Vadra’s land deal? Congress, BJP trade barbs

The Congress Party defended Priyanka Gandhi’s husband and blamed the BJP for spreading false information

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By: Anand Singh | NEW DELHI
Updated: 27 December, 2022 7:02 pm IST
Congress has often claimed that the corruption charges against Robert Vadra are politically motivated

Days after the Rajasthan High Court denied Robert Vadra’s request to dismiss a money laundering case involving dubious land deals in Bikaner, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) traded barbs, asking who approved the sale and purchase of his land deals in the desert state.

Vadra is the husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and the son-in-law of former party president Sonia Gandhi. He is also the brother-in-law of former party president Rahul Gandhi.

The row erupted on Tuesday afternoon after BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia launched a tirade against the Congress, dubbing the Gandhi family “kattar paapi parivaar” and the “most corrupt family in Indian politics”.

“Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi should break their silence on corruption and money-laundering allegations against Vadra when their party was in power in Haryana and Rajasthan and at the Centre as well,” Bhatia said.

“This is a ‘kattar paapi parivaar’ (extremely immoral family) of India. Its sole purpose has been to commit corruption and seize land for the benefit of Robert Vadra,” he claimed.

Bhatia also rejected the Congress’ claim of a witch hunt against Robert Vadra, claiming that it amounted to casting aspersions on the judiciary, which has refused to quash charges against him.

“They are the most corrupt family in Indian politics. Three members of the family are out on bail in corruption cases. It is a serious matter of concern for a government with zero tolerance for corruption,” he said, referring to the corruption probe against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul in the National Herald case.

On Thursday, the Rajasthan High Court refused to quash an ED investigation into the purchase of land in Bikaner by a company linked to Vadra and his mother, Maureen Vadra.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala slammed the BJP and questioned why the ED has not filed a charge sheet in the case in the last eight years.

“The unprecedented response and support of the sea of humanity surging and joining the Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Delhi has deeply frustrated and unnerved the BJP leadership,” Surjewala said.

He claimed that the BJP is working overtime to throw spanners and obstacles in the way of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, from a malicious disinformation campaign about the Yatra and Yatris to taking cover behind Corona to secretly block the Yatra, and now, to level false allegations against the Congress government in Rajasthan and Vadra.

“Objective is clear – distract, mislead and misinform – from the focus on the issues of Inflation, unemployment, unequal distribution of wealth and politics of hate,” the Congress Rajya Sabha MP said.

Taking on the BJP’s charge, Surjewala said, “BJP today indulged in fakery by stating two things. First, they said that between 2008-13 Congress snatched 1,000 bighas of land in Bikaner from farmers and allotted the same to two people – Hariram and Natharam, both of whom are fictional people. An FIR was then registered.”

“Secondly, this land was then sold to Skylight Hospitality of Vadra and the Rajasthan High Court has rejected a case to quash the FIR,” he said.

“These are devious and bogus attempts at fakery and to peddle lies. The Congress government in Rajasthan did not take an inch of the land of farmers between 2008 and 2013 or allot it to Hariram and Natharam,” he said, adding that the land was sold during the BJP government in Rajasthan.

Surjewala claimed that the BJP government allotted land in Bikaner’s Gajner village in February 2007 to Hariram and Nathram.

“On November 19, 2007, during the BJP government in Rajasthan, Natharam sold 12.65 hectares of land to one Rajender Kumar. On the same date, Hariram also sold 18.96 hectares of land to Kishore Singh,” Surjewala said.

“The BJP government in Rajasthan transferred the mutation and girdawari of land from Nathram and Hariram to Rajender Kumar and Kishore Singh,” the Congress leader said, adding that it is clear that the land was allotted by the BJP government.

He further said that land was also sold through registered sale deeds during the tenure of the BJP Government.

Presenting the facts of the transfer of lands, Surjewala said that after nearly three years (28 months), on January 4, 2010, Rajender Kumar and Kishore Singh sold this 31.61 hectares of land to Skylight Hospitality of Vadra through a registered sale deed.

He also said that on August 8, 2014, Commissioner, Settlement, Bikaner “cancelled” the original allotment in favour of Nathram and Hariram.

“Consequently, sale deeds, including those in favour of Skylight, became irrelevant. The land reverted to Rajasthan. The state continues to be its owner in possession,” the Congress leader said.

Surjewala also said that on August 26, 2014, four FIRs were lodged in Bikaner. “Neither Skylight Hospitality nor Vadra were named as accused in the FIRs. At this time again, there was a BJP government in Rajasthan. And on February 5, 2015, Skylight filed civil suits for recovery on account of being defrauded and duped by the seller,” he said.

Surjewala also said that on August 4, 2015, the BJP government in Rajasthan filed charge sheets in the aforementioned FIRs. “Subsequently, a supplementary charge sheet was also filed by the BJP government, and Vadra or Skylight Hospitality was not found guilty nor arrayed as accused,” the Congress leader said.

Taking on the BJP for misusing central agencies, Surjewala said, “On September 17, 2015, the ED lodged an ECIR, although Skylight Hospitality was a victim as it was defrauded, and that neither the FIRs nor the charge sheets found any role or guilt of Skylight Hospitality or Vadra.”

“A case was then instituted by Skylight Hospitality against ED for supplying a copy of the ECIR and for quashing the ECIR. The High Court has only held that their request for quashing the FIR is premature because Skylight Hospitality or Vadra are not accused in the FIR or charge sheet,” Surjewala said, referring to the Rajasthan HC order.

Surjewala also said that the victims in the present case are Skylight and Vadra who were duped.

“The FIR and charge sheet lodged by the BJP government in Rajasthan did not find any reference to Skylight or Vadra. ED lodged a malicious ECIR only to harass, despite there being no FIR or charge sheet,” Surjewala said, adding that even the Rajasthan High Court has given no adverse finding against Vadra.

When asked about the ED questioning Vadra on a number of occasions in connection with the case, Surjewala said that since 2014, the BJP has been in power, but they have not been able to prove any wrongdoing.

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