In an exclusive interview with The New Indian, Robert Vadra, the affluent industrialist and son-in-law of Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, opened up on the ongoing Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe against his brother-in-law Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case.
The case is related to a transaction for Rs 90-crore by a company Young India Limited, floated in 2010 by Gandhis, to buy out Rs 2,000-crore alleged assets of Associated Journals Limited.
In the first and only such interview with any media, the prominent member of the Gandhi-Vadra family has objected to the ED probe, saying the agency must not call Sonia Gandhi, who was detected with COVID after the summons and is recovering at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the national capital.
Vadra, who is the husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, also accused the government of targeting the family that matters to India. Excerpts of this interview with The New Indian’s Assistant Editor Anand Singh
Q: How do you look at the action of ED against Rahul Gandhi?
A: Every person in the country understands that the agencies are being used by the government. They only work for the government. We have seen this in Punjab at the time of elections and we have seen this in West Bengal too, with what happened to Mamataji’s (Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee) family.
The government is using a 10-year-old case to call a member of my family who matters in this country.
If there are any wrongdoings, the agency should question them. But if you see the timings…it is a time when the government wants to hide their failings. People are called for interrogation when the country is upset about what Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson or minister had spoken about religion or created disharmony.
I saw Rahul (Gandhi) speak about a tsunami of COVID cases but everyone laughed it off. The BJP government did not prepare and we saw so many deaths during the COVID. Rahul fights for people, he does not talk about religion-based politics. This is why the agencies are being used against him.
I understand it very well. I have been through ED 15 times, and five times I have faced the Income Tax Department. I understand because I have dealt with harassment since the BJP came into power.
I had told Rahul that the agencies will say that you are not cooperating. This is their modus operandi. They cannot say that they found nothing against you and give you a clean chit.
But, if Rahul Gandhi is answering everything clearly, what is the need for more days of interrogation or the need for arrest. It does not make sense to me. It’s only the optics that BJP is trying to push these agencies to show Rahul in a bad light.
Q: How do you look at BJPs’ charge that Congress is using theatrics to avoid ED questioning and save the Gandhi family and protect their assets?
A: I’ve made myself clear. But I know our families are together and we’ll be standing by Rahul. He will entertain any summons and any questions that are asked by the agencies.
When I was interrogated, they asked my mother to also join. She was 74 years of age then. She was asked to come to Jaipur. She was only one per cent partner of my company.
I’ve said before that if they find anything, any wrongdoings in the company, they can make an income tax assessment of the profits and losses. They can do a reassessment. If there’s any wrongdoing, they can have a penalty on it. That’s the method. They should use the judicial system where your questions and answers are clear.
In the same way, calling Mrs Gandhi would be the wrong thing to do. She’s ailing and everybody knows it. I know she’s getting better but the doctor says that she needs to remain in the hospital.
We will support Rahul and as I said, the truth will prevail and he’ll have victory on his side.
Q: Besides Rahul Gandhi, ED has also summoned Sonia Gandhi in the case. How do you look at the entire episode?
A: As I said, it is at the behest of the government. The government seems to be very upset and tries to intimidate my family by using agencies.
But Rahul Gandhi is fearless and he’ll answer every question, and stay there for as many hours as required. I do hope that we can separate the agencies from politics, politicians and political parties, especially BJP. Because only then people will believe in these agencies, otherwise it looks like just a political witch-hunting.
Q: Do you think Rahul Gandhi is being harassed?
A: This whole thing is harassment. People are upset as the government only talks about caste and religion. People all over the country are very, very disturbed.
BJP tries to cover up everything by calling a member of my family for interrogation in a 10-year-old case. But the government chose this time because they know the media will follow it. They want to divert attention and hide their failings.
Q: Do you think other Union ministers, who are getting injured, are participating in a protest to protect themselves or Rahul Gandhi?
A: Whoever, I speak to, says it’s very sad how the Delhi Police is behaving with senior ministers, older people and workers and also women. Everybody is very disappointed, how people are being manhandled and going into homes of Congress leaders, and intimidating them and this is totally incorrect. We’ve never seen this before, and no party has ever done this and this is on the behest of the BJP alone. BJP has initiated this.