Robert Vadra slams Arvind Kejriwal, says allegations ‘cheap publicity and defamatory’

New Delhi: Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, has told NDTV that the charges of corruption levelled against him by activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan are an attempt to “malign my family in order to gain cheap publicity for themselves and for the launch of their political party.”

Mr Vadra also hinted that he may take legal action – he said the allegations made against him are “utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory.”

But Mr Kejriwal continued the war of words and asked Mr Vadra to clarify the charges against him. “Vadra has not responded to specific questions asked by us… Vadra should come in the open and clarify charges against him,” he said. “We all live in a democracy and some genuine questions are raised by us. The son-in-law of the most powerful person in the country should address the issue and he is not doing it and is shooting the messenger,” he added.

Mr Kejriwal and Mr Buhshan launched an anti-graft political party last week. In a press conference on Friday, Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan had alleged that real estate giant DLF had gifted Mr Vadra a 65-crore interest-free loan and sweetheart deals on a series of apartments in Gurgaon.

Though they did not offer evidence, they said DLF gave Mr Vadra’s Skylight Hospitality Private Limited hugely discounted flats in return for favours from the Congress, which they claimed ranged from rushed clearances and permissions to allowing DLF to build commercial projects on land acquired for public interest.

DLF yesterday denied all the charges, explaining that Mr Vadra was not offered unsecured loans or apartments at cheaper rates than other customers.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, whose party the NCP partners the Congress at the Centre and in Maharashtra, slammed Mr Kejriwal yesterday, and asked why is he not going to court. “This has become fashion… Instead of demanding Special Investigation Team (SIT) from the government, Kejriwal should go to court and file a criminal case against him if Vadra did anything wrong… He should prove what he has said,” Mr Pawar said.

Mr Kejriwal, who spent most of Sunday meeting people in Delhi on the issue of inflated electricity bills, has said that his team will give a detailed response, possibly today, after they study the clarifications sent by Mr Vadra and DLF. Mr Kejriwal, who had said earlier that he should be sued if his charges are found incorrect, said that DLF’s statement was “full of half-truths and lies” but did not elaborate.

The activists’ accusations against Mr Vadra have been derided by the Congress and snatched by the BJP to demand an investigation. Mrs Gandhi, sources said, has instructed her party leaders to staunchly defend her son-in-law. They have obliged. The party line is that the activists have misrepresented facts to try and damage the Congress’ credibility ahead of elections in major states like Gujarat and Karnataka. Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said on Sunday, “If they have any proof, let them go to a court of law. They can ask for enquiry if they have evidence. But they can’t make allegations just like this.”

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