Officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Friday said Robert Vadra, brother-in-law of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, has been summoned by the agency for questioning in connection with the Bikaner land deal case. Vadra has been asked to appear in person before the ED in the first week of December.
“He had earlier been summoned on November 20. But he did not appear in person and sent his legal representative with documents. We have told him we want to examine him personally and so he must appear in person,” an ED official said.
On Friday, The Indian Express reported that the ED, which is investigating a web of controversial land transactions in Bikaner involving Vadra’s companies, has asked the Income Tax Settlement Commission for details on its proceedings in the case related to Bhushan Power and Steel Limited (BPSL) which gave a loan to a company that bought land owned by Vadra’s firm at seven times its acquisition cost.
Two months ago, the then ED Director, Karnal Singh, wrote to the Settlement Commission asking for details of the file that contains deliberations on the BPSL case and the order that was reserved. He also asked for details of the reconstituted bench that is alleged to have diluted the order to provide relief to BPSL.
On Friday, BJP president Amit Shah, campaigning for his party at Nagaur in Rajasthan, said: “Today there is a story on the front page of The Indian Express. A very big company got a loan worth thousands of crores. And who got the commission? Just two-three days after the loan was taken, within a month, its commission went to the son-in-law. Companies of their son-in-law, the son-in-law of the Nehru-Gandhi family. And what did they do with it? Bought 150 hectares of land in our Bikaner. 150 hectares of land was bought at throwaway prices, and billions, crores of rupees have reached the account of the son-in-law’s company.”
Shah asked Rahul Gandhi to respond. “I want to ask the Congress president today, does he or does he not want to respond to the report published in The Indian Express?”
In a statement posted on his Facebook page Friday, Vadra called the allegations against him “entirely false” and wondered if activities of “certain government agencies” to link him to issues with which he had “no connection” was a coincidence.
“A flurry of media queries are suddenly being sent to me based on entirely false allegations probably being leaked by the government as polling day in Rajasthan comes close!! Interestingly, most of the issues arising thereof happen to be sub-judice. Is it a mere coincidence that this also coincides with certain government agencies accelerating their activities and raking up issues that either have no connection to me at all or I have already responded to years ago and cooperated with them fully over the last four years?”
“The sad part is that everyone except the BJP can see how desperate, blatantly political and vindictive these tactics are,” Vadra said in his statement. He called it “the government’s plan B every time they find themselves on the back foot be it Rafale or the prospect of losing assembly elections”.
Coming to Vadra’s defence, Congress leader Ahmed Patel was quoted by the ANI news wire service saying: “As election approaches, such things will be brought up in Parliament. But law should take its own course. It’s a new trend to defame someone.”