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Daamad, Loan & Finance

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Breaking down the Vadra DLF deal


Theres little doubt: Vadra gained from DLFs benevolence DLF borrows money at 12.38%; lends free to Vadra Plot thickens: Vadra, DLF, and a smoking gun of sorts... Money for nothing: DLF-Vadra alibi on land deals is hogwash Vadra loans and DLF directors: Didnt know or didnt bark? How BJP dropped the ball on Robert Vadra in 2011 05 10 12 14 16 18

The big expose


Gutsy Kejriwal takes battle straight into 10 Janpath Haryana govt is DLFs agent: Kejriwals 5 big allegations Kejriwal breaks Omerta Code on DLF-Vadra sweetheart deal Kejriwal scores big with Vadra; Opp parties face eclipse Kejriwal salvo: Cornered Cong comes hard at IAC activist Politicians and real estate: Why are we missing the big picture? Arvind Kejriwal slams Congress and Vadra 21 23 24 27 28 30 32

Mango people and Banana Republic


Of course, Robert Vadra is right! We are a banana republic The Robert Vadra mystery: Forget property, how did he acquire Priyanka? Vadra vs Kejriwal: This is also a war about class BJP flays Vadra for mango man comment Why Robert Vadra, latest realty tycoon, is not frisked 34 36 38 41 42

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

The Gandhi angle


Saving Private Vadra: The Congress needs a new script How does the Congress solve a problem like Robert Vadra Robert Vadra, the wrong Gandhi, and the Indian Rupee Why is Chidambaram peeking into Vadras tax returns? After Vadra, Kejriwal raises questions about Priyankas property 44 46 48 50 52

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Breaking down the Vadra DLF deal

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Theres little doubt:


Vadra gained from DLFs benevolence
As we piece the DLF-Vadra deals together, there is now little doubt that Robert Vadra got beneficial treatment.
Vivek Kaul, Oct 10, 2012 uted to Vadras business acumen. It was largely DLFs help that did it. Now, to answer the questions raised by IAC. First, what was Vadra doing owning a DLF subsidiary company? Northern India IT Parks Pvt Ltd is a company with an issued capital of Rs 25 lakh. The company has issued 2,50,000 shares with a face value of Rs 10 each. Robert Vadra owns 2,47,500 shares of the company. His mother Maureen owns the remaining 2,500 shares. This means Robert Vadra owns 99 percent of the company.

he Arvind Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption (IAC) unleashed its second round of attacks on the relationship between Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, and DLF, Indias largest listed real estate company, yesterday (9 October). So what has IAC alleged, and how much of it holds water? But we will give the bottomline first: how and what did Vadra gain? Business Standard estimates that Vadras gains from all the sweetheart deals involving DLF could be in the vicinity of Rs 200 crore. And not much of it can be attrib-

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Both Robert and his mother Maureen were appointed as directors of the company on 19 June 2008. The balance-sheet of the company as on 31 March 2009 shows an investment of Rs 2,50,000. This investment was made to buy a 50 percent stake in DLF SEZ Ltd on 13 October 2008. This investment does not appear on the balance-sheet of the company as on 31 March 2010. DLF bought back the stake from the Vadra-owned Northern India IT Parks in September 2009. In its statement released to the press, IAC had asked what role Vadra played in the period of almost one year during which DLF SEZ was in his control. DLF issued a statement on 9 October explaining the same. In DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd, 50 percent of shareholding was acquired by North India IT Parks Pvt Ltd in October 2008 at the face value of Rs 2.50 lakh. The said 50 percent shareholding was subsequently bought back from North India IT Parks Pvt Ltd in September 2009 fully at face value of Rs 2.50 lakh, as the proposal for developing SEZs could not take off due to deep recession in the market in year 2009. No benefit or gain was made by Mr Vadra or DLF, in this regard. So Vadra did not gain any money by owning 50 percent of DLF SEZ. But that does not mean he did not gain anything at all. He used the money he got from DLF to buy apartments, land, plots, etc, without having to pay any interest on it. How did land valued at Rs 15.38 crore suddenly appreciate to Rs 58 crore? Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd is another company owned by Vadra. It has issued 50,000 shares with a face value of Rs 10 each and so has an issued capital of Rs 5 lakh. Of this Vadra owns 49,900 shares and his mother Maureen 100 shares. Some time between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009, the company bought a plot of land of 3.5 acres in Manesar, Haryana. This can be said because the balance-sheet of the company as on 31 March 2009, shows this entry. But the balancesheet as on 31 March 2008 does not show this entry.

This plot of land is valued to be at Rs 15.38 crore in the balance-sheet of Sky Light Hospitality. Against this plot of land DLF gave Sky Light an advance of Rs 50 crore by valuing the land at Rs 58 crore. As the company said in a statement on 6 October Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd approached us in FY 2008-09 (i.e. the period between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009) to sell a piece of land measuring approximately 3.5 acresDLF agreed to buy the said plot, given its licensing status and its attractiveness as a business proposition for a total consideration of Rs 58 crore. As per normal commercial practice, the possession of the said plot was taken over by DLF in FY 2008-09 itself and a total sum of Rs 50 crore given as advance in instalments against the purchase consideration. So what does this mean in simple English? It means that Vadras Sky Light Hospitality approached DLF to sell the 3.5 acres of land it had bought at Rs 15.38 crore. DLF valued this land at Rs 58 crore and gave Vadras Sky Light an advance of Rs 50 crore against this land. The point that arises here is this. Sky Light Hospitality bought the land between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009 for Rs 15.38 crore. They also approached DLF during the same period to sell the land. DLF in turn valued the land at Rs 58 crore. This is a little difficult to believe. What this means is that the value of the land went up by 3.8 times between the period Sky Light Hospitality bought it and approached DLF all within a period of one year. One should remind readers that this was also the period during which the global financial crisis was starting. Lehman Brothers went bust on 14 September 2008 and so those were tough days for all markets. The deep 2009 recession that DLF talks about in its 9 October was starting. Where did Vadra raise the initial Rs 15.38 crore to buy the land from? DLF came into the picture only later when the company decided to buy the piece of land from Vadras Sky Light Hospitality. While this writer could not independently establish where this money came from, a story in Business Standard does the necessary explaining. Sky Light Hospitality, when it was incorporated, had an
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

issued capital of Rs 1 lakh. On this capital of Rs 1 lakh Corporation Bank gave it an overdraft of Rs 7.94 crore. This overdraft is clearly visible as a current liability in the balance-sheet of the company as on 31 March 2008. As Business Standard points out He(as in Vadra) must also have had excellent relations with Corporation Bank, whose Friends Colony branch (located close to Mr Vadras companies offices in the capital) gave an overdraft of Rs 7.94 crore to Sky Light Hospitality. The newlyincorporated company at the time had total resources of Rs 1 lakh, being its paid-up share capital. This took care of part of the funding for the Rs 15.38 crore land. So this brings Corporation Bank in the loop also. Does the bank give overdrafts amounting to Rs 7.94 crore to companies with an issued capital of Rs 1 lakh regularly?

were on the balance-sheet of Vadras Sky Light Hospitality at least till 31 March 2011, how did DLF take over the plot in financial year 20082009 itself? IAC raises these questions. It asks whether it is normal business practice for DLF to give an advance as high as it had and on top of that let it remain with the seller of the land (ie Vadra) for more than two years without taking possession? Also, is it normal business practice to let this advance remain interest-free given that DLF borrows money at such a high rate? As on 31 March 2012, DLF had Rs 25,066 crore of debt outstanding. And it was paying an interest of 12.38 percent on this debt. So basically what DLF wants us to believe is an advance is actually an interest-free loan to Vadra. An advance is typically short term and is settled in less than one year, as we noted in this earlier post. On Sky Light Hospitalitys balance-sheet this advance was listed as a current liability. A current liability is essentially a debt or an obligation of a company that needs to be paid up in one year. But this current liability was on the balance-sheet for more than two years. Was this the only advance that DLF gave Vadra? Not really. In fact, there is another advance of Rs 10 crore from DLF which is visible on the balance-sheets of Sky Light Hospitality as on 31 March 2010 and 31 March 2009. Again this implies that DLF gave Vadras company an advance for a period of greater than one year. DLF also said in its 6 October statement that we wish to categorically state that DLF has given no unsecured loans to Mr Vadra or any of his companies. This doesnt hold either. The balance-sheet (dated 31 March 2010) of Real Earth Estates Pvt Ltd, another company owned by Vadra, shows a clear entry of Rs 5 crore as a loan from DLF. IAC points out that Real Earth Estates has specified this loan to be an unsecured loan in a filing with the Registrar of Companies. An unsecured loan is a loan in which the lender does not take any collateral against the loan and relies on the borrowers promise to return the loan.

Did DLF take over the Manesar land in FY 2008-09 from Vadras Sky Light Hospitality? DLF, in its 6 October statement, said that the plot was taken over by DLF in the financial year 2008-09 itself. If that was really the case, why does the land appear on the balance-sheet of Sky Light Hospitality dated 31 March 2011, as a fixed asset valued at Rs 15.38 crore? Also, DLFs statement (read here) says the advance was paid in instalments starting in 2008-2009 (the period between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2009). This advance has remained on the books of Sky Light Hospitality till 31 March 2011. This means that DLF had given an advance to Vadras Sky Light for a period of greater than two years. So if both the land and the advance

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

DLF also had advanced Rs 15 crore during the financial year 2008-09 to Sky Light Hospitality. As DLFs 6 October statement says, Skylight Group of companies also offered us in FY 2008-09 an opportunity to purchase a large land parcel in Faridabad and, accordingly, DLF agreed to advance Rs 15 crore in instalments simultaneous to the commencement of due diligence of the said land parcel. After concluding that the said land had certain legal infirmities, we decided against its purchase. Accordingly on DLFs request, the Skylight group refunded the advance of Rs 15 crore in totality.

source (TDS) for interest earned on fixed deposits can be seen. There are 19 such entries with a total TDS of Rs 4.95 lakh. TDS is cut at the rate of 10.3 percent when the interest earned on fixed deposits with a bank during the course of one year crosses Rs 10,000. This means that Vadra earned a total of Rs 48.06 lakh (Rs 4.95 lakh/10.3 percent) between 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010. This interest would have been earned on a part of the interest-free Rs 50 crore advance from DLF which would have been invested in fixed deposits with banks. So the interest-free money from DLF was invested in fixed deposits by Vadras Sky Light Hospitality and money was made in the process. Sky Light Hospitality had a Rs 25 crore advance from DLF on its books as on 31 March 2009. A small portion of this was used to pick up a stake of 50 percent in a hotel joint venture with DLF. This company, called Saket Courtyard Hospitality, runs one hotel in Saket, New Delhi. The balance-sheets of Sky Light Hospitality also show the company giving advances to other Vadra companies. The balance-sheet of 200809 shows an advance of Rs 3.5 crore to Sky Light Realty Pvt Ltd. It also shows an advance of Rs 2.05 crore to Blue Breeze Trading Pvt Ltd. Both these companies are owned by Robert Vadra. Since they got an advance it was interestfree. This advance was used by Sky Light Realty to fund agricultural land in Palwal and land at Hayyatpur in Haryana. It also used around Rs 9 lakh to book flats with two builders. Sky Light Reality also managed to earn an interest of around Rs 31 lakh (TDS of Rs 3,18,656 divided by 10.3 percent) on fixed deposits by placing a part of these advance in bank fixed deposits. As on 31 March 2010, Sky Light Hospitality had given a loan of Rs 6.61 crore to Sky Light Reality Pvt Ltd. This was used to fund seven flats in DLFs Magnolias project and which are shown to be worth around Rs 5.23 crore. It was also used to buy a Rs 89 lakh apartment in DLFs Aralias apartments. How much did Vadra make in the end?
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

This entry can be seen in Sky Lights balancesheet as on 31 March 2009. If one were to add up all this, DLF essentially offered Rs 80 crore to Vadras companies at various points of time. It is safe to say that a large portion of this was interest free. So what did Vadra do with this money? Lets start with Real Earth Estates. This company, as we saw earlier, had got an unsecured loan of Rs 5 crore from DLF. This was a part of the balance-sheet of Real Earth Estates as on 31 March 2010. What is surprising is this: how can a company with an issued capital of Rs 10 lakh be given an unsecured loan of Rs 5 crore? This Rs 5 crore was used to part-fund fixed assets of around Rs 7.09 crore. This includes a plot in Greater Kailash-II in New Delhi, and land in Bikaner, Gurgaon, Mewat and Hassanpur. Now lets take the case of Sky Light Hospitality which shows an advance received of Rs 50 crore from DLF as on 31 March 2010. In the balancesheet for the year, a series of taxes deducted at

It is very difficult to estimate one number but some calculations can be made. As a Business Standard story points out, The Aralias and Magnolias flats together would fetch Rs 130 crore or thereabouts, and by DLFs calculation, Mr Vadras share in the hotel project would be in excess of Rs 50 crore. His total asset base from the two Sky Light companies all made by rolling over transactions with DLF, and helped by real estate value appreciation would be in the vicinity of Rs 200 crore, made in five years.

That is not a bad going given that Vadra had very little of his own money at stake. So it is very clear that Robert Vadra benefited from his relationship with DLF. Whether DLF benefited from their relationship with Vadra will be very difficult to establish. But that still raises the question why was DLF so meherban on Vadra? That is the billion dollar question they need to answer. Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at vivek.kaul@gmail.com

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

DLF borrows money at 12.38%;

lends free to Vadra


DLF is head over heels in costly debt. But it still finds it worthwhile to give interest-free loans to Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi
Vivek Kaul, Oct 6, 2012

LF is Indias largest listed real estate company. During the heyday of the company a few years back, such was the craze for the DLF stock that Kushal Pal Singh, its owner, was listed among the 10 richest people in the world. Those days are now gone.

his relationship with DLF to The Economic Times in March 2011. I have a good understanding with DLF. Our children are friends, we are friends. They are seasoned businessmen. They are not daft. They are educated, sensible people and are reasonable and shrewd in their business. They dont need me to enhance them. The company has recently been accused by Theyve existed for years, Vadra had said. (You Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan of giving can read the complete story here). interest free loans amounting to Rs 65 crore to Robert Vadra. Vadra is married to Priyanka On the face of it, this might look like a comVadra, daughter of Sonia Gandhi. pletely normal business transaction between two different businessmen. But the latest annual report and the analyst presentation made DLF throw up some interesting questions nevertheless. As per an analyst presentation (dated 6 August 2012) made by DLF, the gross debt of the company stands at a whopping Rs 25,060 crore as on 30 June 2012. At the end of 31 March 2012, the gross debt had stood at Rs 25,066 crore. (You can access it here). The annual report of DLF points out the companys borrowings from banks and others have a effective weighted average rate of 12.38 percent per annum, calculated using the interest rates effective as on 31 March 2012 for the respective borrowings. So what this means is that the company had debt outstanding of Rs 25,066 crore as on 31 March and was paying an interest of 12.38 percent on that debt. The debt outstanding as on 30 June 2012 had not changed much and was at Rs 25,060 crore. It is fair to assume that over a period of three months the interest rate on the debt outstanding wouldnt have changed significantly.
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Kejriwal and Bhushan have released documents which clearly show that companies set up by Vadra borrowed money from DLF and then used that money to buy properties from DLF, among other things. (You can access the press release here). The market value of these properties has increased considerably since Vadra bought them. According to a tweet on the Twitter handle of news channel NDTV, DLF has said that their dealings with Vadra have been completely transparent. Vadra, on his part, had explained

What is also interesting is that during 20112012 (i.e. the period between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012), the sales of the company stood at Rs 4,582.67 crore. This means that the debt of the company is nearly 5.5 times its annual sales, which is extremely high. The question that DLF needs to answer is that why is a company which has such huge outstanding debts, paying an interest of 12.38 percent per year on it, giving out interest-free loans? Also it seems to have been having trouble in bringing down its outstanding debt. The outstanding debt between March and June 2012 has gone down by only Rs 6 crore. The company has been trying to bring down the debt by selling investments that it had made over the last few years. It recently sold a plot that it owned in Lower Parel in Central Mumbai to Lodha Developers for Rs 2,750 crore. The company has been trying to sell several of its other investments over the last few years. The high debt level has been a huge concern for the analysts who track the company. As Sandipan Pal, an analyst with Motilal Oswal, wrote in a recent report, DLFs high debt has been a key concern for investors; however, we believe leverage (which means debt in simple English) of Rs 16,000-17,000 crore would be a sustainable level for the company. So here is a company which analysts believe should be cutting down on its debt by around Rs 9,000 crore, and it has been giving out interestfree loans to an individual with zero or very little experience in running a real estate business. DLF needs to tell us in some detail the business reasoning behind this decision. Another interesting point that comes out while going through the annual report of the company is that it has 65 non-current investments. The annual report of DLF points out that Investments are classified as non-current or current based on managements intention at the time of purchase. Investments that are readily realisable and intended to be held for not more than

a year are classified as current investments. All other investments are classified as non-current investments. Of the 65 non-current investments only two are joint ventures. One of these joint ventures is with Skylight Hospitality Private Limited, a company owned by Robert Vadra and his mother Maureen. Skylight owns a 50 percent stake in Saket Courtyard Hospitality Private Limited, which runs the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in Saket, New Delhi. This is the only operational hotel of the company. When it comes to making non-current investments, joint ventures are not a favoured form of investing with DLF, given that only two out of its 65 non-current investment are joint ventures. The venture with Skylight is very small by DLF standards. In the annual report of the company the book value of the joint venture is put at just Rs 5.6 crore. Also why would a company as big as DLF enter into a joint venture for a four-star hotel with an individual who has absolutely no or very little prior experience in running a hotel? This is something that needs to be answered. A recent report in Daily News and Analysis seems to suggest that the hotel run by this joint venture is on the block. (You can read the story here). The entire Congress party has come to the rescue of Robert Vadra and tried to project the deals between Vadra and DLF as normal business transactions. One senior leader even went to the extent of saying doesnt Vadra have a right to occupation? Yes, Vadra has the right to an occupation and so does DLF. But there are too many unanswered questions here that need to be answered. Vivek Kaul is a writer. He can be reached at vivek.kaul@gmail.com

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Plot thickens: Vadra, DLF, and

a smoking gun of sorts


Arvind Kejriwals disclosures on Tuesday provide adequate circumstantial evidence to establish a prima facie case of political influence-peddling in a manner that profited both DLF and Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra.
Venky Vembu, Oct 10, 2012

ith each passing day, the web of intrigue that connects Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra to the business fortunes of real estate developer DLF is being systematically unravelled by anticorruption activist and newbie politician Arvind Kejriwal. And what Kejriwal has revealed thus far, and in particular at his press conference on Tuesday, provides adequate circumstantial evidence to establish that there is a prima facie case of political influence-peddling in a manner that profited both DLF and Vadra. Despite the strenuous rebuttals and clarifications offered by DLF, first on Friday (when Kejriwal made his first round of allegations) and

then late on Tuesday, the organic links between DLF and Vadra point to a cosy relationship between a leading business house and a political satellite (with enormous clout as a member of the First Family of Indian politics) in a manner that validates long-held perceptions about the politician-builder nexus. In his first round of allegations on Friday, Kejriwal established that Vadra had been the beneficiary of DLFs extraordinary largesse in a way that saw Vadra rise from a middling brassware exporter status to a big-money real estate operator. The documents that Kejriwal ferreted out from the Registrar of Companies in respect of Vadras business dealings charted a remarkCopyright 2012 Firstpost

able business profile. The rocket fuel that propelled Vadra into the high orbit was a series of transactions with DLF. DLF claims these cash infusions were advances on land that Vadras companies had sold to DLF, but for all practical purposes, as Firstpost had noted earlier, they served as an unsecured, interest-free loan. Vadra leveraged that for extraordinary gains in the real estate market. In any case, as Firstpost had noted (and Kejriwal reiterated on Tuesday), there is at least one entry of a loan from DLF Ltd reflected in the balance-sheet of one of Vadras companies, which effectively nails DLFs claim that no loans were ever offered to Vadras companies. That discrepancy between DLFs account and Vadras company filings merits investigation. But even as of Friday, when it was manifestly clear that Vadra had benefited from the business association with DLF, there was one missing piece to the jigsaw puzzle: how did DLF benefit from that investment in Vadras political capital? Where was the quid pro quo? In other words, where was the smoking gun evidence that establishes criminality arising from that relationship? Kejriwals revelations on Tuesday establish the nearest thing to that smoking gun evidence. As Kejriwal mapped out, one strand of Vadras business association with DLF binds them organically to a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project in a manner that could have profited DLF in securing land from the Harayana government. Specifically, for one year between 2008 and 2009, M/s North India IT Parks Ltd, one of a clutch of companies that Vadra incorported in a rush of real-estate entrepreneurship (funded by DLF), acquired a stake of nearly 50 per cent in DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd, the DLF company that was floated in 2007 to promote the SEZ project.

During the time that Vadras company had a stake in DLF SEZ Holdings, the latter was tying up the process of securing land from the the Harayana government for the SEZ project. That land acquisition had been caught up in litigation, since the land had originally been allotted for a hospital. The precise details of DLF SEZs interactions with the Congress government in Harayan, during the time that Vadras company had a stake in the SEZ project, are not yet out. But to appreciate how DLF would have benefited from the association with Vadra, you have to understand how the wheels of power spin. Merely having Robert Vadras name associated with the project would have as Firstpost noted here opened doors for DLF in its interlocutions with the Haryana government. There wouldnt have been any need even for old-style influence-peddling or for Vadra to make a couple of discreet phone calls to people who were in a position to decide in DLFs favour. Any politician or bureaucrat in Haryana who saw Vadras company had acquired a stake in the SEZ project would, given the culture of dynasty worship that prevails in the Congress, have taken the hint and cleared the files in doublequick time. For sure, there is as yet no certitude about what precisely transpired. But only the extremely naive would discount the manner in which name-dropping (by showcasing Vadras companys stake in the project) would have greased the tracks for DLF in its interactions with the Haryana government. In other words, DLF appears to have made an investment in Vadras political capital by offering him interest-free loans and real-estate at a discount, on the strength of which his business soared in just three years. In return, Vadra evidently returned the favour, by formalising a discreet manner in which his interest in DLF projects could be invoked by DLF to advance its own business fortunes.

The relationship itself was short-lived: Vadras company sold back its stake in DLF SEZ Holdings to the DLF group. But even so, it is revealing, particularly when one considers the manner in which having a heavyweight political name You scratch my back, I scratch yours. In other associated with a project opens doors in govwords, business as usual ernment, particularly one headed by the party associated with Vadra.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

DLF-Vadra alibi on land deals is hogwash


Everything about the business empire that Vadra built and grew at an exponential rate, particularly since 2007, reeks of cronyism, given he is who he is: the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi.
Venky Vembu, Oct 8, 2012 he Sphinx broke its silence on Sunday. In a statement, Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra gave expression to injured innocence and claimed that the allegations against the metoric rise in his business fortunes, levelled by anti-corruption activist and newbie politician Arvind Kejriwal, were utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory. Vadra said that that his business transactions were fully reflected in financial statements filed before appropriate government authorities in compliance with the law. The attempt by Kejriwal and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan to point to Vadras dealings with real estate developer DLF as embedded with the seed of corruption amounted to deliberate misrepresentation of numbers in his companies financial statements. They were, he added, an attempt to manufacture lies and malign my family in order for Kejriwal and Bhushan to gain cheap publicity tied to the launch of their political party. Earlier, on Saturday, DLF came out with a point-by-point rebuttal to the allegations levelled by Kejriwal and Bhushan against the sweetheart deal between the company and Vadra. In it, the company said that contrary to Kejriwals claim that DLF had proffered an unsecured, interest-free loan to Vadras companies (the proceeds of which were used to purchase DLF-developed properties at a steep discount to market price), the company had in fact offered no such loan. We wish to categorically state that the DLF has given no unsecured loans to Mr Vadra or any of his companies, DLF said. Instead, it claimed, DLF had given a total of Rs 65 crore as busi-

Money for nothing:

ness advances for the purchase of land as per standard industry practice in respect of two property transactions. The first of them related to a 3.5 acre plot in Gurgaon that Skylight Hospitality, one of Vadras business entities, had offered for sale to DLF for Rs 58 crore; and the second related to a land parcel in Faridabad, which was offered for sale, which however wasnt consummated because of legal infirmities associated with the land. In the latter case, therefore, DLF secured a refund of Rs 15 crore that it says it paid as advance.

On the face of it, this may seem a plausible explanation. As Firstpost had noted earlier, from a cursory look at the balance-sheets of Vadras companies, it wasnt clear if he got an unsecured, interest-free loan (in the way that Kejriwal and Bhushan suggested) or if he secured an advance on land sold to DLF. DLFs case is that it was the latter. DLF further dismissed the allegation that these payments to Vadras companies were linked in some manner to the land allotments that the company secured from the Congress-ruled
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Harayana government. DLF vehemently denies any quid pro quo in its transactions with Mr Vadra and his group of companies, the statement claimed. It noted that the company had been in the business of real estate development in Haryana for over 40 years and had implemented large projects by purchasing land from individual land owners directly at fair market prices and developing them in strict compliance of all rules, regulations and applicable laws. But the alibi that DLF trots out on behalf of itself and Vadra to defend their land dealings rings untrue. It hardly seems standard business practice for DLF to pay up to nearly 90 percent of the property transaction value to Vadras company as an advance and for that amount to remain listed on Vadras companys balance sheet for two years and more as an advance. Indicatively, even as of 31 March 2010, Sky Light Hospitality lists a Rs 50 crore payment from DLF as an advance on sale of Manesar land, and an additional Rs 10 crore from DLF as advance (Land A/c). Despite the nature of this classication, in spirit, there is nothing to distinguish these payments from an interest-free loan to Vadras companies. In any case, Real Earth Estates Ltd, one of Vadras many companies, lists a Rs 5 crore loan from DLF in its balance sheet for 2009-10, which effectively knocks down DLFs claim that no loan was ever proffered to Vadras companies. All those payments from DLF were pivotal in putting Vadras business fortunes into a vastly higher orbit than he had been operating in earlier. At best a middling businessman with family interest in brassware, he struck pay dirt from 2007 onwards, when he established five different entities in the real estate, hotel, trading and

airline charter businesses. All with a very small paid-up capital base (of only Re 5 lakh, in some case). By 2010, on the strength of what DLF says was an advance on land sales, but clearly reeks of an interest-free loan, Vadras companies entered into a flurry of real estate deals, all worth several multiples of their paid-up capital, catapulting Vadra into the big league. Nobody grudges a businessman his fortunes if they were amassed fairly and in a transparent. But everything about the business empire that Vadra built and grew at an exponential rate, particularly since 2007, reeks of cronyism, given he is who he is: the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. It is nobodys case that the proximate family members of leading politicians must go into abject self-denial when it comes to charting their professional or entrepreneurial paths. But given the reality of our political culture, where typically anyone close to positions of power enjoys enormous clout, and the unnatural rise in Vadras business fortunes particularly pegged to what, despite DLFs clarification, reeks of an interest-free loan, the bar for transparency must be set a lot higher than for ordinary businessmen who arent married to the First Family. DLFs and Vadras disavowals notwithstanding, there is a compelling case for an independent investigation into Vadras business empire. Congress apologists may buy readily into the alibis proffered in defence of the deals, and the party, beholden to the First Family, may seek to brazen it out. But the renewed focus on the nontransparent business transactions of Vadras business empire is certain to cast a long shadow. The stench is only growing in intensity.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Didnt know or didnt bark?


DLFs loans to Robert Vadra did not come up before board. But can independent directors just plead ignorance now?
R Jagannathan, Oct 8, 2012 he Robert Vadra-DLF land deals bring to the fore once again the value of having independent directors on board. Not only do they not appear to be independent, they often seem to be sleeping on the job. In the Satyam case, we saw two business school worthies one from Harvard and another from the IIM-ISB stable as independent directors but they did not spot or stop what turned out to be Indias biggest corporate scandal. A whole host of institutional investors also slept on the job or failed to raise a stink. The scam came to light only when the man himself B Ramalinga Raju confessed. So much for independent

Vadra loans and DLF directors:

directors being able to flag off potential skullduggery. More recently, in the Coal India case, the independent directors woke up to government interference in the pricing of coal only when a foreign fund manager, The Childrens Investment Fund, threatened to sue them for silence. Do directors become independent only when they are going to be sued? There is also little evidence that ONGCs independent directors have raised the banner of revolt against the governments efforts to transfer profits from their company to the oil marketing
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companies. Why dont the ONGCs independent directors quit instead of acquiescing in this loot of shareholder wealth? Which brings us back to the Robert Vadra-DLF case, in which India Against Corruption, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan alleged that DLF made interest-free loans to Sonia Gandhis son-in-law, and which both DLF and Vadra have since denied. The Economic Times talked to two of the independent directors on DLFs board and both came up with this simple disclaimer: it was not brought to our notice. Or words to that effect. MM Sabharwal, who was the independent director at the time of the DLF-Vadra transactions, is quoted as saying that the auditors never raised the issue. And KN Memani, current independent director on DLF and former chief of Ernst & Young, said something similar. ET attributed this statement to Memani: The matter was not flagged off at any board meeting. We have not come across any such instance where favours have been done.It is not possible to look at each and every sale transaction. But we try to ensure that all transactions are done at market prices. DV Kapur, another independent director and former government official, said nothing had been established. If thereafter anything comes to light, we should investigate it. This is a listed company. Perhaps we are being unfair to the independent directors, but they have as much explaining to do as the company and Vadra. Three questions arise. First, do independent directors have to act only when something has been brought to their notice? If it needs an auditor to tell them whats wrong, the board can surely act without the intervention of the independent directors. Why

have independent directors in this case? Second, do independent directors not read the newspapers? People like Sabharwal and Memani and Kapur are not babes in the wood. When The Economic Times front-pages a story as early as March 2011 - on the deals involving Vadra and DLF, does it not strike them that they should be asking the management for details? Third, are independent directors really so innocent about what happens in real estate deals? Everyone knows that politicians are up to their necks in property deals. So could the independent directors have been unaware of who Robert Vadra was? Why then did they need the auditor to flag off these deals? In fact, one can argue that it is not the auditors job to point out political risks in a deal; their job is to confirm to shareholders that what is stated in the balancesheet reflects the true state of affairs in the company. So did the auditors fail or the independent directors in this case? But this statement of Memani to ET, about the alleged underpricing of deals to favour Vadra, takes the cake: If any such instance would have come to us, we would have stopped it. If the company had tried to bypass us, I would not have stayed on the board. But then he goes on to state: If investigation takes place, I am certain that nothing would be found. Assuming the newspaper has quoted him correctly, what is Memani trying to say? That he didnt know, or that if he knew he would have stopped it, or that he doubts there was anything wrong with the DLF-Vadra deals? Indias tribe of independent directors has not covered itself with glory so far. Not in Satyam, not in Coal India or ONGC. Not, it seems, even in laffaire DLF-Vadra.

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How BJP dropped the ball on

Robert Vadra in 2011


The BJP, which was planning to take up the DLF-Vadra deal last year, is ruing the fact that Arvind Kejriwal has stolen the show now.
Sanjay Singh, Oct 8, 2012 a private person? How far should the party go on this? Should it go ballistic or just make a few routine noises? Along with these discussions, the party made further enquiries on such transactions involving Vadra and some others. A formal notice for discussion was given in the Lok Sabha by Nishikant Dubey. In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley made his intentions clear. But then came two internal meetings, of the Core Group and an Executive Committee of the BJP parliamentary party, which in any case informally meets every morning whenever Parliament is in session. There was a clear conflict of opinion among the top party leaders. This is where the BJP dropped the ball. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and former party Presidents M Venkaiah Naidu and Rajnath Singh were of the opinion that the BJPs fight was against Sonia Gandhi and the Congress. It should not extend the battle to the personal family domain and especially daughter Priyanka and son-in-law Robert Vadra. The argument was that even if there was a clear case of misuse of political connections, there was no government agency involved in the deal. A certain private company was helping a private individual. Was the party in a position to prove that there was a quid pro quo, as was done in the case involving Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Balwa and DMK chief M Karunanidhis daughter, Kanimozhi, in the 2G scam? There was also talk that since the BJP wanted

section of the BJP leadership is ruing a decision it took in March 2011 to not go for the jugular with the Robert VadraDLF sweetheart deal. Last week, Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan hogged the headlines as they obtained a match-winning free hit on the Vadra-DLF deal, even though the original story had been done by The Economic Times 18 months ago. It was open to any political party to exploit the issue, but the BJP muffed an easy chance. It is now trying to catch up and present a united face on the subject. But, internally, questions are being asked. Should the party not have taken the opportunity to score anti-corruption brownie points last year itself when the Congress was on the ropes?

Here is the inside story on how things unfolded in the BJP after The Economic Times broke the story in March 2011. As soon as the story was published, senior leaders in the BJP began discussing how far they should go in raising the issue. Would it be fair for the BJP, as the principal opposition party, to raise an issue regarding

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to be seen as a responsible opposition party, people may not like these kinds of allegations coming from it. There was also reference to Atal Bihari Vajpayees dislike for personal attacks. What probably held the BJP back was the fact that in 2004, the partys personal attacks on Sonia Gandhis foreign origin ultimately boomeranged on it. There was, however, no final decision to not pursue the Vadra case, but Arun Jaitley was given the responsibility to gather more facts. Information was sourced from various quarters, official and private. The files prepared on Vadra are still there, but they were never spoken of in public forums. Enthusiastic BJP MPs were simply informed by the leadership that the Core Group had decided not to raise personal matters. The Lok Sabha Speaker, on 15 March, rejected Nishikant Dubeys notice demanding a discussion in the House. Dubey initially pleaded that there was a precedent, when charges of a similar nature were discussed in 2001 against the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya. He was advised by the party not to press the matter further after the Speaker had rejected his notice. Dubey told Firstpost that this happened in the midst of budget session. We had already stalled the winter session on our demand for a JPC in the 2G scam, and it would not have gone down well if we had stalled the House, this time on

Robert Vadra. So we then let it pass. Another BJP MP Chandan Mitra agrees. It was all right for the party not to have raised the issue. We are a responsible party and till such time we have clinching evidence of a quid pro quo, we could not have done that. But then he makes a distinction between raising the issue and demanding an inquiry. Yes, based on those reports we could have demanded an inquiry then, like we are demanding an inquiry now. Given the media and public space that Kejriwal has occupied post his Vadra disclosures, the BJP is busy seeking moral positions for failing to drive the agenda in 2011. However, it is certainly true for Arvind Kejriwal, a hit-and-run mission on Vadra posed fewer dilemmas than for the BJP. He had nothing to lose from it. As an interloper in the political arena, he needed something sensational to make his mark. The BJP now consoles itself that this option was not open to it, given the level of public scrutiny responsible parties are subjected to. But questions are still being asked inside the party. Was the party overcautious? Did we hand the platform to an outsider when we could have taken the stage with it? As the principal opposition, the BJP is always wary about allowing others to occupy its space. It is now fretting about what could have been.

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The big expose

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

straight into 10 Janpath


Anti-corruption crusader breaches the political Lakshman Rakha.
Sanjay Singh, Oct 5, 2012 he unwritten Lakshman Rekha in Indian politics has been breached. For the first time the Nehru-Gandhi family is under direct attack on charges of corruption. The Bofors case was an exception but it originated abroad and it initially involved someone whose connection to the family was rather distant. This time it is much closer. Arvind Kejriwal barged into the no go area on Friday while bringing Robert Vadra, husband of Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, into his line of fire. Prima facie it appears that some of the facts on various transactions between Vadra and DLF

Gutsy Kejriwal takes battle

would stand to scrutiny and is thus sure to bring the corruption debate back to the front burner. The Congress-led UPA had temporarily succeeded in diverting the public attention from the subject by launching a reforms blitzkrieg. The charges would cause injuries to the party and the family in innumerable ways. Kejriwal charges did hurt where he intended it to hurt. He made Sonia Gandhi react rather instantly, something that never happened in the past. Since Vadra is said to be out of the country and thus is not in a position to defend himself Sonia took the charge, both as the Congress president and also as a mother-in-law. She countered the charges, saying (theres) no
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misuse of (his position) by Robert. She also reportedly described the charges as an attempt to sensationalise the issue. Taking the cue, the entire senior Congress leadership and the government vied against each other to present a better defence for Vadra. The crux of their argument is, as a citizen he had a right to do whatever business he chose. The line of defence was more on rhetorical lines than on merits of charges leveled against him. Privately, a good number of Congress leaders and workers had for long been apprehensive of landing in a situation like this. There had been hush-hush talks of aggressive business deals by Vadra. He was always considered to be the weak link in the family that they have been taught to worship. They understand that an attack of this nature against Vadra could land them in an existential crisis since the UPA and the Congress are already fighting serious corruption charges in the CWG, 2G and Coalgate cases. Allegations of misappropriation of wealth by Vadra lead directly into 10 Janpath. The trouble for the Congress gets compounded because he happens to be husband of Priya-

nka, who is considered to be Congresss `brahmashtra the ultimate weapon with the party against the opposition should Rahul Gandhi fail to deliver electoral results. There have been quite a few occasions when party leaders had been in a difficult position explaining Vadras conduct. In UP assembly elections, he campaigned in Rae Bareli, leading a bike rally. It was something that did not go down with family loyalists and sympathisers in Sonia Gandhis home turf. Vadra faced criticism from various quarters and soon abandoned his rally. Earlier, he had said that he could win from any constituency in the country and had also revealed that there was a serious move for him to contest from Sultanpur, a neighbouring constituency of Amethi and Rae Bareli in UP. So far as the charges made by Kejriwal are concerned, the Economic Times had reported a good portion of that last year. But no political party made it an issue and beyond some murmurings in political and business circles, nothing much happened. The story then died a natural death. But going by the initial heat that it has generated, it is not going to die down any time soon.

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Kejriwals 5 big allegations


Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal today described the Haryana government as an agent of realty major DLF, which has been linked with Congress president Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra.
FP Staff, Oct 9, 2012 nti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal today described the Haryana government as an agent of realty major DLF, which has been linked with Congress president Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra.

Haryana govt is DLFs agent:

here instead. People, whose land was acquired, went to court, and it cancelled the SEZ. Allegation 2: Vadras company held 50 percent shares of DLFs SEZ for a year. Robert Vadra bought 25,000 shares and sold them back to DLF in one year. Quoting 2009-2010 balance sheet of Vadras company Real Earth Estate Pvt Ltd which showed Rs 5 crores as loan from DLF Ltd as unsecured loan, Kejriwal refuted DLF statement that no unsecured loan was given to Vadra. Allegation 3: Haryana awarded land to DLF, rejecting other bids. The state government manipulated bids to award land to DLF. Haryana govt says there was an international bid. But while opening the technical bid new conditions were imposed and bids from Unitech and Country Heights were not opened. Allegation 4: When DLF front companies had bought land in Manesar from farmers, the Haryana govt cancelled land acquisition after all the distress selling. Now the farmers have filed a case and the High Court has put a stay. Allegation 5: 350 acres of Gurgaon land worth Rs 1700 crore was given to DLF. Farmers were paid 20 lakhs per acre- and DLF got it for Rs 5 crore.

The Haryana government has become an agent of DLF, it is not a peoples government, Kejriwal told the media, and asked Haryana to bring out a white paper on its dealings with the company. He cited court records and other documents to back his allegations. These are the five big allegations that Kejriwal made today: Allegation 1: 30 acres of land in Gurgaon was meant for hospital. Instead, Haryana govt on March 9, 2007 allowed DLF to build an SEZ

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on DLF-Vadra sweetheart deal


Naming and shaming Robert Vadra, in the way that Kejriwal and Bhushan did, may not seem an honourable course. But when youre dealing with a government and a party that will do its damnedest to cover up its corruption, there is greater dishonour in remaining silent.
Venky Vembu, Oct 6, 2012 hey came in waves, like silent armies that move in the night. Each of the Congress Ministers and party leaders who were seen studio-hopping or otherwise implanting themselves in front of cameras late on Friday had been assigned a specific role: to defend the First Family of Indian politics against the most audacious allegation of corruption levelled by Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan, the two Johnny-come-latelys to the world of politics, against rajmata Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra.

Kejriwal breaks Omerta Code

And although the intimate details of Vadras sweetheart deal with real estate developer DLF have been in the public domain for more than a year, and although other high-profile anti-corruption campaigners like Subramanian Swamy have in the past pointed to the taint of corruption surrounding Vadras business operations, this time around, there was an uncharacteristic hunted look about the Congress foot soldiers. Perhaps the avalanche of corruption scandals of recent years surrounding the UPA government,
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headed by the Congress, has begun to take its toll. Or perhaps it was just the fact that Kejriwal and Bhushan, novice politicians that they are, had shattered the Omerta code of silence which dictates that allegations of corruption against family members of top-rung political leaders arent articulated in public, not even by the principal Opposition party. Whatever the reason, the armies of the Dynasty were palpably less than a match for the outpouring of outrage generated by the allegations of corruption going right up to the top to Sonia Gandhis family. Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, who appeared all of Friday evening to be a Gandhi family retainer, made a colossal hash of his defence of Vadra, and rather than risk losing the argument in its entirety, he pulled off his earpiece and microphone and slithered off screen on at least two separate programmes, evidently unable to take the heat. Likewise, on CNN-IBN, Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, after a futile attempt to deflect attention away from the allegations against Vadra, too walked away, leaving behind a Jayanthi Natarajan-shaped hollow on our television screens. In large part, the Congress defence of the DLF-Vadra sweetheart deal rested on very infirm ground. First, they argued, the DLF-Vadra deal, under which Vadra probably secured an unsecured, interest-free loan from DLF, the proceeds of which were then used to purchase a clutch of DLF property at a substantial discount to the then prevailing market prices, was a transaction between two private parties, which was not open to question by anyone other than the shareholders of DLF. In any case, they claimed, there is no evidence of any quid pro quo: there was nothing in the documents that were furnished by Kejriwal and Bhushan to establish how DLF had benefited from the transaction. If DLF, in its benevolence, wanted to given an unsecured, interest-free loan and sell property at a substantial discount to anyone, that doesnt establish a prima facie case of corruption in the manner that had been alleged. Everyone from Sonia Gandhi to DLF to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda claimed that all the trasnactions were

transparent and abided by the highest standards of ethics. But the man at the centre of it all Vadra himself thus far remains incommunicado. But the Congress and the DLFs and Hoodas defence trust us, theres nothing wrong with these transactions doesnt wash, not after what is known of the UPA governments record of the past three years in attempting to bury any and every corruption trail unless it was dragged kicking and screaming to the courts. For starters, Vadra isnt just any private individual: first, he is Sonia Gandhis son-in-law, operating in a political culture where anyone in such close proximity to power wields enormous influence, within the government as well as the ruling party. That alone requires that any undue favours he may have secured and he did in the DLF deal ought to be subjected to the most rigorous investigation. Second, DLF too benefited from allotments of large tracts of land from the Haryana and Delhi governments. Given that both of these were Congress governments at the time of Vadras business transactions with DLF, it does raise the needle of suspicion that one was correlated to the other. For sure, there is no smoking gun evidence to establish that Vadra in any way peddled his influence to secure the land for DLF, but in matters like this, there seldom is. From a cursory look at the balance-sheets of Vadras companies, it isnt clear if he got an unsecured loan (in the way that Kejriwal and Bhushan suggest) or if he secured an advance on land sold to DLF. But if it is an unsecured, interest-free loan, that puts Vadra in the same indefensible position as DMK MP Kanimozhi, who is facing prosecution in the 2G scam case. (DMK-run Kalaignar TV, in which Kanimozhi has a stake, received over Rs 200 crore from Shahid Balwas DB Group; the CBI believes it was a bribe paid for favours shown to the DB Group through Telecom Minister Raja; Kalaignar TV claimed it was an unsecured loan which it returned.) But in either case, the entire transaction has all the trappings of a sweetheart deal, and given the meteoric rise in Vadras business fortunes in just three years, and the fact that DLF too benefited from land allotments from Congress governments, it reeks
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of corruption. That missing link may be impossible to establish, but just the fact that the Congress foot soldiers have dismissed the demand for an impartial investigation shows the brazenness with which they operate today. It is the same brazenness that accounts for Vadras very public acknowledgement in the Registrar of Companies documents to acknowledge the undue favours he received from DLF.

ing the Vadra issue. Subsequently, the party chickened out completely from raising the issue evidently abiding by the Omerta Code of politics. As contemporaneous media reports had it: Differences were evident at a meeting of BJP leaders in Parliament with some leaders advocating caution while some others felt Congress could be asked some questions on Vadras activities. Leader of Opposition in the Lok Saba Sushma Swaraj felt it would not be good form to target family members of political rivals. The argument within the BJP, evidently, was that that political battles would get out of hand if they got personal; BJP president Nitin Gadkari too expressed himself in favour of weighing the evidence carefully. It is this that makes a mockery of the BJPs enthusiastic embrace on Friday of Kejriwals and Bhushans allegations against Vadra. Whether they will be just as vociferous if Kejriwal and Bhushan target a high-profile BJP leader next, as is suspected, will be revealing. Kejriwal and Bhushan, being new entrants to the field of politics, are looking to bomb the citadels of power. For sure, they havent produced the smoking gun evidence against Vadra this time, but given the cloak-and-dagger nature of such operations, that may prove impossible to produce. Which is why they have instead opted for a name-and-shame tactic by going public with their allegations. Its not the most honourable course, but when youre dealing with a feckless government and a party that will do its damnedest to cover up its corruption, particularly when, as in this case, it leads right up to the palace gates, there is greater dishonour in remaining silent, in the way that the BJP and much of the media has done.

Congress apologists point to it to claim that it shows up the transaction as transparent. On the contrary, it signals rather more that Vadra knew all along that no one would dare investigate it. Where did that cocksure arrogance spring from? When details of Vadras suspect business dealings first surfaced in March 2011, in Economic Times, it created something of a stir in political circles. Both the BJP and the Left claimed they would corner the Congress on Vadras meteoric rise (details here). But as columnist Swapan Dasgupta noted within days of the report coming out, there was resistance from within the BJP itself to rais-

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Opp parties face eclipse


rvind Kejriwal has hit the right notes with his attack on Robert Vadras real estate deals with DLF. On the one hand, the allegation has struck a blow to the heart of the Congress the Gandhi family but, on the other, he has also touched on the one issue in which no political party has been willing to take a tough stand: corruption related to land deals. Politically, it is clear that Vadra, Sonia Gandhis son-in-law, is the Gandhi familys Achilles Heel. Unlike the First Family itself, the public or even the Congress party has no love lost for this man who loves bikes and is a fitness freak. Left to itself, the party would have left the allegations unanswered, since they concern a private person, but the Hindustan Times tells us that the Congress spokespersons were pushed by defend Vadra by Sonia Gandhi herself. One may recall that during the Uttar Pradesh elections, Robert Vadra had more or less indicated that he had political ambitions. In February this year, Robert Vadra, who organised mobike rallies in the state, told the media that if the people so desired, I can come into politics, as this Firstpost story noted. Vadra was quoted as saying then: Abhi Rahul ka time chal raha hai, phir Priyanka ka time aayega, phir parivar ke doosre (This is Rahuls time. After that will come Priyankas time and also of other family members.). Quite apart from confirming what is known to everybody that the Congress party is a family business Vadra sent all Congresspersons scurrying for cover. Unidentified Congress sources told a Kolkata newspaper: Soniaji should ask him to shut up. Everyone in the Congress went to town to dismiss the idea of Vadras entry into politics. This is what Priyanka herself said: Look, you

Kejriwal scores big with Vadra;


R Jagannathan, Oct 6, 2012

(media) must have asked him a twisted question and then misinterpreted the answer. Robertji is very happy and satisfied doing his business. But Priyankas comment may this time come back to haunt her. If Vadra is very happy doing his business, the Kejriwal disclosure on his DLF land deals will raise legitimate questions on what business he really is in and how legitimate it is. The Vadra deals were first reported by The Economic Times but they didnt make waves given the conspiracy of political silence that enveloped it. Even this time, Congressmen would actually have been happy to let Vadra stew in his own juice, but they are out in force to defend Vadra. Reason: a murky land deal is not something that will stick only to Vadra. It has the potential to taint the whole family. Kejriwal has gone for the jugular, and if rival parties dont watch out, he will get the media on his side for the public suspects that almost all politicians are into land deals. As another Firstpost story said the other day, land and property is where maximum corruption exits. By focusing on a real estate-based anti-corruption crusade, Kejriwal will find a responsive audience at both ends of the middle class.No less a person than Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told The Economist that there is a deep nexus of property and political funding. If opposition parties like the BJP which failed to take up the Vadra issue when it surfaced last year do not take up the land mafia and landrelated scandals, they are in danger of ceding the entire opposition space to Arvind Kejriwal.

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Kejriwal salvo: Cornered Cong

comes hard at IAC activist


Fresh revelations may make it difficult for Rahuls formal elevation.
Sanjay Singh, Oct 9, 2012

rvind Kejriwal kept his date with controversy on Tuesday. The target was Robert Vadra again. This time he managed to put in a tight spot one of the largest real estate companies, DLF, and the Haryana government, which he alleged made a series of undue favours to the former in the past few years. The fresh revelations have left the Congress fuming even more. Check the reactions: Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi demanded to know whether Kejriwal had given a darkhadwast (application) first before making the allegations. Renuka Chaud-

hary made the attack personal, saying Kejriwal had no moral standard and was stooping to new lows. Incidentally, there was no response on substantive issues raised by the India Against Corruption (IAC) activist from the Congress. The fact that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had severely indicted DLF and the Haryana government, forcing the latter to reverse its order changing the land use of a 30-acre land in Gurgaon from hospital to SEZ did not matter to them. This land was handed over to the DLF.
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The high court ruling, as quoted by Kejriwal, was clearly scathing against those concerned: The aforesaid facts alone are enough to establish a nexus between M/S DLF Limited and the government to grab property in question. As it transpires, the issue is no longer a deal between the two private parties, howsoever hard the Congress may try to prove otherwise. With the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi and husband of Priyanka Gandhi under fire on charges of misappropriation of wealth, the Congress faces a grave crisis of credibility. And also, now that the unwritten code among political parties to keep a distance launching personal attacks on the Gandhi family has been breached, the party expects more acrimonious charges now. The problem for the Congress is manifold. First, the corruption issue is back on track to haunt the Congress after a temporary respite. It had managed to get some positive headlines after it announced big bang reforms. Second, Mayawati is now looking at early parliamentary elections and has put the UPA government on notice. Even if she does not withdraw her outside support from the government, she will put it on case to case probation. If she takes a tough position, Mulayam Singh Yadav, the other lifeline of the UPA, cant afford be seen going soft on the Manmohan Singh government.

Third, the increased turbulence in New Delhis power corridors comes ahead of the two crucial assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where it is pitted in a straight fight against the BJP. Naredra Modi already has upped the ante against Sonia Gandhi. Fourth, this also comes at a time when Rahul Gandhi was to be formally elevated to the Number Two position in the Congress. Will this be the best time for the heir apparent to be in that position? Same applies for the proposed Union Cabinet reshuffle. It has already been postponed. There are question marks over the timing, if at all it is going to take place any time soon. Fifth, lately the government had displayed an unprecedented sense of resistance and went on a reform overdrive after the BJP forced a washout of the Monsoon session of Parliament. Though the Finance Minister had promised more reforms it looks difficult given the unfolding events. After Kejriwals damning allegations, the government would be more in the damage control mode than on governance. Its not only Vadra, the party is worried about Priyanka too. The vast mass of party leaders and workers consider her to be the weapon of last resort should Rahul fail.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Why are we missing the big picture?


There has been an ostrich-like approach even after news of the DLF-Robert Vadra story broke out in March 2011. Thats because large sections of the media are compromised and corrupted and real estate companies are among their biggest advertisers.

Politicians and real estate:

Abhay Vaidya, Oct 8, 2012 across the country therefore go unreported or underplayed till theres an explosion that cant be ignored at the risk of looking foolish. Added to this, few media houses would want to risk inviting trouble by taking on the son-in-law of the nations most powerful entity. The opposition parties, most notably the BJP, also passed the opportunity to raise a ruckus. The reason suggested by some journalists but denied by the BJP was that politicians have an unwritten code of not taking on each others children, as far as possible. Its the live-and-letlive philosophy that operates in fraternities including the underworld, where even rivals have an unwritten code of conduct.

ndia is living in deep denial with its refusal to go deeper into the murky world of politicians and real estate. One clear evidence of this is the ostrich-like approach after The Economic Times broke the DLF-Robert Vadra story a clear 18 months ago in March 2011. Even though all the documents were available openly in the public domain on the Registrar of Companies website, the intensely competitive media did not pick up the story. Partly because large sections of the media are compromised and corrupted and real estate companies are among their biggest advertisers. If one realty firm is hurt, media houses not only risk losing advertising from that group, but also face the larger threat of other realty firms ganging up against any publication or news channel that attacks any one of them. Most real estate scams

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The opposition also passed on the story because virtually every political party has wealthy politicians with their hand not just a finger in the real estate pie. Take the case of the 2G spectrum scam in which the CBI has booked Shahid Balwas DB Realty as one of the biggest conspirators. This prominent realty firm then came into the limelight and numerous stories followed of the large concessions and enormous favours it had received from the Maharashtra government for its various real estate projects in Pune and Mumbai. One of the first things that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan did was to scrap a mega low-cost housing contract for 5,000 tenements that had been awarded by the government to DB Realty in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Within a month, the state Home Department announced a review of its decision to hand over a three-acre plot of the Yerawada Police Station to DB Realty for its hotel project. That land had been handed over by the government to DB Realty, amidst protest from Pune Police for construction of 500 apartments for police personnel on another plot. Not too long ago, the NCP was hotly defending its president Sharad Pawar against allegations by the BJP about his links with Balwa. What has been proved conclusively and well-documented by the media is the business partnership between DB Realty and the Pune-based Panchshil Realty a firm with shareholdings by Sharad Pawar, his wife, son-in-law Sadanand Sule and daughter Supriya, MP. The Pawar familys other interests in real estate firms have also proved controversial be it in Lavasa Corporation an ambitious subsidiary of the Hindustan Construction Company or the Pune-based City Corporation Ltd which shot into the headlines over a failed bidding for the Pune IPL team. The real estate sector is arguably the most lucrative sector in India and when unscrupulous players get the benefit of influencing government policies and planning the wealth generated is simply astronomical. The evidence is all around us it is just a matter of bringing it into the public domain. Entire townships and mega infrastructure projects of hundreds

and thousands of crore rupees are planned in this way and then theres no need to indulge in small bribes. The irrigation scam in Maharashtra which has embroiled the NCP leading to a protest stepping-down by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is a pointer to the nexus between politicians and builders. Irrigation experts say that this is the story in many states across India although Maharashtra is the only state where the scam has erupted. Politicians across parties in Maharashtra have interests in land and realty projects and among those who got exposed ruthlessly was the senior Shiv Sena leader and former chief minister Manohar Joshi in the Sundew apartments case involving his son-in-law Girish Vyas. One modus operandi of politicians is to float charitable trusts to get hold of prime government land. Since that is not enough, theres the other strategy of linking up with a realty firm which invariably witnesses a meteoric rise, thanks to its politician godfather. Take the case of the Dnyanaeshwari Shikshan Trust controlled by close relatives of senior Congressman and former chief minister Narayan Rane which was allotted a prime plot of Rs 20 crore meant for rehab of recovered psychiatric patients. This plot continues to be with the Rane trust in spite of intense reportage in a section of the media. What about Ranes other interests in real estate? What about Chhagan Bhujbal and Suresh Kalmadi? Theres lot of smoke and some fire all around, but a lot more needs to come out in the public domain. The fact is that there are hundreds of politicians across the rank and file of political parties, serving as Mayors, Corporators, MLAs and Ministers who have direct or indirect interests in realty projects. They manage to manipulate government policies, influence the tendering process and become storehouses of black money, all ready to win their next election. The Robert Vadra DLF story is not as blackand-white as made out by the Congress ministers. There are deeper shades of grey that need to be hammered out. And theres need for far greater transparency, especially in cases involving politicians.
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Congress and Vadra

Arvind Kejriwal slams

Kejriwal flaunts a Punjab High Court document. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost.

IAC member Prsahant Bhushans father, senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan backs Kejriwals claims. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost
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Mango people and Banana Republic

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

We are a banana republic


Robert Vadra knows the banana republic world from the inside. The business empire that he built in double-quick time is living testimony that that world does exist. And that we are, in fact, mango people in a banana republic.
Venky Vembu, Oct 9, 2012

Of course, Robert Vadra is right!

hen youre married to the mob, s0 t0 speak, you get to see society in a way that ordinary mortals dont get to see.

You and I, in our innocence and naivete, believe in such quaint notions as the supremacy of the rule of law. And we are wracked by guilt when we are compelled to deviate, ever so slightly, from the straight and narrow path, even if only under duress. If we so much as jump a traffic light, some of us feel we have to atone for it by performing ritual ablutions in holy rivers.

But the rules work differently for the mob. On the highway of life, the mob doesnt stop for traffic lights. It instead bends the arc of the rule of law to work to its advantage. And if a member of the mob has been blooded into the family, he can zip along unhindered by such mundane matters as traffic rules. Hell, even red lights can turn green if youre sufficiently high up in the hierarchy. Which is why Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadra speaks with authority when he speaks
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of India as a banana republic. More than any of us, he ought to know: he lives in that banana republic world, and makes it work to his advantage and, as has been established, to enhance his business fortune. It is only in a banana republic that a man who starts off with Rs 50 lakh capital (and an undistinguished record of running a middling family business) can, in just three short years, build a Rs 300 crore business empire without any semblance of business activity, as declared in his companies filings. It is only in a banana republic that the path to that empire will be paved by interest-free, unsecured loans (masquerading as advances) from a corporate entity that, we are told, was acting on the goodness of its heart. It is only in a banana republic that when allegations of possible impropriety in the deals are made, and an independent investigation sought (given the high-profile nature of the beneficiary and the unnatural growth in his business), the demand will be dismissed out of hand, as if it isnt important for people in positions of power and those close to them to be seen to be abiding by notions of propriety. It is only in a banana republic that the onus of establishing proof of criminality (in deals where, by their very nature, the transactions will be lost in a maze of opacity) will be placed on the lowliest person who has no investigative authority, rather than allowing investigative agencies to at least conduct a transparent, preliminary probe. It is only in a banana republic that the entire government machinery, from the Law Minister to the Finance Minister to assorted underlings and retainers of the First Family, will come swinging in defence of a private individual in the way that Robert Vadra has been characterised. It is only in a banana republic that the Finance Minister will imperiously issue a clean chit to

the individual concerned (as he delicately put it), without the faintest effort at establishing the facts of the case. It is only in a banana republic that even Constitutional authorities like Karnataka Governor HR Bharadwaj will improperly inject themselves into the matter, merely to be seen to be defending the First Family of Indian politics, to whom they are eternally beholden. It is only in a banana republic that a son-inlaw of the First Family will openly talk of a line of natural succession that will see, first, Rahul Gandhi, followed by Priyanka Gandhi, followed by other members of the family evidently meaning Robert Vadra himself rise to the top of the political heap. Robert Vadra knows that banana republic world well because he lives it every minute of every day. Its the world where doors open automatically for members of the First Family, red carpets are rolled out, the brass band is lined up and concessional loans are offered and real estate sold on the cheap, merely as a way for established businesses to make the necessary investment in political capital. Its a world where a business empire built primarily on such concessions, which were secured solely on the strength of proximity to power (with all the possibilities of influence-peddling that such proximity comes with), can be passed off as the exertions of a business wizard. You and I, we dont get to see that world. Which is why, in our naivete, we mocked Robert Vadra when he spoke glibly about mango people in a banana republic and hounded him enough to force him to delete his Facebook profile. But Robert Vadra knows the banana republic world from the inside. The business empire that he built in double-quick time is living testimony that that world does exist and thrives. And that we are, in fact, mango people in a rotting banana republic.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Forget property, how did he acquire Priyanka?


The bigger mystery is not how Vadra got rich, but how he got hitched. Sure, the Gandhis have always married down, but never have they picked someone so indisputably dumb.

The Robert Vadra mystery:

Lakshmi Chaudhry, Oct 9, 2012 clean on this, thunders a fake Arvind Kejriwal in an Unreal Times spoof of the unfolding drama. The bigger mystery, as the humour mag cheekily points out, is not how Vadra got rich, but how he got hitched. As a friend wryly observes, Its like she married Ajay Devgn. And thats a bit unfair to Devgn. Businessman Robert Vadhera is unlikely to figure anywhere among the countrys 1,000 most eligible bachelors. Priyanka Gandhis 28-yearCopyright 2012 Firstpost

ach time Robert Vadra steps into the spotlight, the average mango folks cant help but wonder, Really? She married him? Of all the men at all the Delhi A-list parties, Priyanka Gandhi picked this guy? Vadras sweet-heart deal with DLF raises many questions but what makes no sense whatsoever is how a petty brass trader from Moradabad, who looks more like Priyankas chauffer than her significant other, could patao a Nehru-Gandhi scion and marry into Indias most powerful political family. We demand that Vadra come

old beau is short, fair, rather stocky and only moderately well-to-do, begins a 1997 Outlook profile of Vadra the fianc. The article went on to damn him with faint praise, describing him variously as unremarkable man; an average student and not an outstanding sportsman; and, most amusingly, as a bit of a Puppy, and not of the canine kind. According to Outlook, Roberts own friends in Moradabad were in shock: We havent stopped wondering what Priyanka could possibly see in the boy. There is nothing exceptional about him or the family. Ouch! In other words, he was all crass, no class, and unlike his predecessors, not even easy on the eye. Now, the Gandhis have typically married down: Feroze was a no-name backbencher, Maneka a beauty pageant type, and Sonia will perennially remain that Italian waitress to her detractors. So a petty trader from Moradabad isnt exactly unprecedented. What makes Robert exceptional is that he is astoundingly, indisputably dumb. While neither the Gandhis nor their spouses have been towering intellectuals, none of them have come remotely close to matching Vadras lack of intelligence. The now infamous Facebook update Mango people in banana republic was not just crassly elitist but just plain stupid. It requires the complete absence of common sense. The presence of even one gray cell may have given our Robert some pause. Just maybe I shouldnt sneer at ordinary people in the midst of an unfolding corruption scandal targeting my disproportionate wealth. Just maybe it spells political suicide for my illustrious in-laws. Just maybe the media is tracking my Facebook account since my last update made headline news. Damaadji entertained no such eminently sensible doubts, not even when deleting his FB account in a huff: Obviously, it seems I have people on my Facebook account who do not have a sense of humour. Everything I write becomes news and further debates on television?? I have decided to delete my account.

Obviously, Robert isnt very good at comprehending the obvious. Nothing I say is premeditated, said Robert in a TOI interview earlier this year, or as it turns out remotely intelligent. Tooting his own horn, he declared, I am very determined, be it business or my fitness. Ive lost 20 kg in five years. And in this much time, if Id wanted to, I could have become a big celebrity. Its been a fight to stay normal. I gave up my life for Priyanka, fighting every day to not be a celebrity, he insists again toward the end of the interview just in case we dont quite grasp the full measure of his sacrifice. Poor Robert, condemned to fight a lifelong battle against fame, valiantly staving off even the slightest hint of imminent success for the sake of his wife. A battle he has clearly lost. Despite his best efforts to remain an unknown loser, his many ventures have been vastly and inexplicably profitable. Crores of rupees have wilfully slithered onto their balance sheets and into his pockets without a single sound business reason. As Mint editor R Sukumar notes: To call the story of the growth of Vadras business empire rags to riches would be stretching things a bit simply because there were no rags at its beginning. If anything, The Hindus description makes the business model of Vadras companies sound like a perpetual motion machine, with assets swelling despite no increase in business activity. Then again, Roberts ability to acquire precious commodities has always relied on the miraculous, as Unreal Times points out: Certainly, Vadras acquisition of Priyanka was disproportionate to all his known sources of talent and Vadra needs to give a full account of his courtship to the public. We will never solve the mystery behind the miracle that is Robert Vadra. But his saving virtue for the Gandhi family is clear: He makes his brother-in-law look like Albert Einstein.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

Vadra vs Kejriwal: This is also a war about class


The clash between Vadra and Kejriwal is not just about a crusade against corruption, its part of the war that exists between Macaulayputras and dhartiputras.
Sagarika Ghose, Oct 10, 2012 he clash between Vadra and Kejriwal is not just about a crusade against corruption, its part of the ongoing simmering war that exists today between Macaulayputras and dhartiputras. Macaulayputrasthe semi-pejorative term for Indias English-educated elitein the 50s were bush shirt wearing, attach case carrying servants of the Indian state. They were the high bureaucrats or public officials, institution builders of academia, science, frontiersmen and women of the Nehruvian dream building dams, IITs and other temples to modern India in remote corners of the Nehruvian empire. They were even captains of early industry with a strong slant towards the public good. The 60s saw the Midnights Children generation of Macaulayputras stream into the elite boarding schools of Doon, Mayo and Sherwood, then win places in elite colleges, sometimes by brilliance, sometimes by family ties, stepping subsequently via St Stephens or Elphinstone to take up spots at Oxford and Cambridge. The swinging set of the 70s hipsters who jived at the Bombay gymkhana or the Tollygunge club, still worshipped Nehru and Tiger Pataudi, smoked

Charms and flirted with Naxalism as a fashion statement. The post liberalisation avatar of the Indian Macaulayputra however is a creature vastly different from the English-educated and Englishspeaking pre -1991 elite. Now big money, flashy lifestyles and American colleges have taken the place of salaried jobs in public institutions, Premier Padminis and Oxbridge. Robert Vadra is a far cry from the babalog boxwallahs of yore, the Rahul-Robert-Priyanka set of fashionistas are mostly garment and jewellery export business owning children of real estate who with ready access to the internet, hardly read or think about India as much as their parents might have. The post 1991 avatar of Indias English speaking elite is thus living in a situation of dangerous disconnect; global from an early age, India is their playground. Reared on Bollywood cinema shot in New York or Andalusia, India is a poor substitute for their global ambitions and a sneaking desire to be American and live life modelled on Sex And The City. To make up for the constant loss of having to
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be Indian and not part of the Manhattan jet set, they live in an India defined by proximity to the rich and powerful, an India where their parents smooth their way by creating comfortable worlds for them to move in, untroubled by law, rules and competition with others. Five Star hotels are their second homes and their lifestyles rest on a bedrock of brutal privilege, that defines itself on being semi-foreigners in a yucky land of spit, shit and milling crowds. When they step out into the boondocks, like when Priyanka sallies forth into Amethi and Raebareli, they opt for the dress required of visiting tourists or foreign NGOs on a rustic Indian field trip, shedding their 7 for all Mankind jeans for khadi regalia for the benefit of villagers who are supposed to gasp in admiration at their ethnic costumed dramas. The new class of the entitled Macaulayputras spares little thought for corruption and corrupt practices. Why should they? For them, flouting the law of the land is second nature, simply because they know the law will never touch them, the law is a vague abstraction imposed on the dirty Idiot Multitude, never on them. When daddy helps to clean up bloodstains on a BMW driven by sonny boy that has just mowed down 6 people, when daddy moves heaven, earth and Ram Jethmalani to get sonny boy off murder charges brought by the family of some chit of a girl who served at a bar, when another son of a powerful real estate father driving another BMW, kills a pregnant young Kshama Chopra and the police mysteriously appear unable to take the case further, when another powerful politician dad threatens, harasses and attempts to silence a grief stricken mother determined to take his raja beta to court for killing her own son, then why should the post 1991 Macaulayputras worry about the law? No wonder this neo Macaulayputra now faces a quintessentially desi revolution, a revolt is brewing, something is stirring in the air. Kejriwal versus Vadra is as much a class war as it is a war against corruption, it is a war between an elite classcontaining within it undoubtedly many many examples of excellence and achievementand an aspirant class of dhartiputra for whom the moral crusade is sharpened by class anger. When fashion shows are attacked by gangs of goons who are the same age as the

fashion models, they are protesting not just at the bare breasts, but also at being excluded by birth from the front row at the ramp. When youthful rowdies howl against exhibitions entitled Tits Clits and Elephant Dicks or plays entited The Vagina Monologues, they are not just the moral police, but also youth enraged by an elitism and an elite class which reminds them every day that they are and have the right to be as brazenly free in their sexual mores as the less privileged are not. The sex goddess in India is not just a creature of glamour, but also a creature of another world, a creature of a distant and mostly hated class, where women can prance semi naked and men are rich beyond dreams. Now Kejriwal is also a moral policeman, a moral policeman against crony capitalism and Macaulayputra privilege, a moral policeman burning with moral as well as class anger.The war against elitism, and the war against the English speaking elite in its post 1991 avatar is a dominant characteristic in todays new India. Hindutva rage against so called English speaking secularists has been manufactured as not just rage against those who are supposed to love minorities but against those who are perceived to be members of a left liberal aristocracy who practice vote bank appeasement in order to maintain their own political and social monopoly of public life. Who are the individuals increasingly capturing the public imagination? Whether we like it or not they are Mamata Banerjee, Narendra Modi, Nitish Kumar and ironically even a Naveen Patnaik or a Jairam Ramesh, the latter having just got a wave of public sympathy from Dalit communities for his toilets-are-purer-than-temples remark. These are ear-to-the ground 24*7 politicians, living breathing and existing with people, some, like Patnaik and Ramesh, Macaulayputras who have reinvented themselves as quasi folk heroes by lowering the volume on privilege and raising the volume on connectedness with people. Rahul and Sonia Gandhi simply cannot compete with a Mamata Banerjee or even a Nitish Kumar, not just because the Gandhis dont spring from the soil but also because they lack the 24*7 engagement with people, that building a mass profile now requires. The UPAs present image crisis stems in large measure from the
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perceived elitism of its top leadership. Robert Vadra appears to be the veritable caricature of the post-liberalisation Indian privileged class, an overnight tycoon with a superbly well connected family, worshipping the body at elite gyms and making ridiculous statements like mango people in a banana republic as if openly displaying his contempt for the majority who are agitated by serious charges against him. While Vadra may not be a Macaulayputra in the old world sense of the term, but educated at the British School in Delhi, with Doscos as his close friends and moving in a rarefied Page Three crowd of fashion designers, the Vadra story could be a test case of how descendants of the old elite are in danger of losing touch with reality in a new India.

out of sync with the prevailing mood that they appear as the last gasp of an ancien regime. Established political familes across India are monopolising land and resources like no other: while powerful daddies are doing the dirty work, their foreign-educated Manhattan-inclined children are enjoying the fruits of crony capitalism, monopoly of resources and amassing windfall gains, creating a private world of pleasure and lawlessness guarded by fiercely protective parents. It is to the credit of the diminutive Kejriwal, anarchist and lawless as some of his actions like burning electricity bills may be, that he has dared to puncture the balloon of those who were on their way to creating India as a republic of spoilt brats. Its also rather sad that the saga of the elite in India has ended up becoming encapsulated in a Robert Vadra. The high achieving Nehruvians, the educated builders of modern India, the formidable talents, old world decency, cosmopolitan, liberal yet rooted outlook that bilingual English-educated folk in India embody and have always embodied, are in danger of being caricatured by the Vadra syndrome. Vadra has indeed given the Indian elite a bad name, from Jawaharlal to Robert is an unfortunate trajectory for a family and a nation. In the aftermath of the Vadra affair, its high time the Indian elite re-invents itself. The elite must shed their perverse avatar of flashy disconnectedness and recapture in some measure what it was in the first decades of India: strivers for excellence and idealists about India. Building on the past, the Indian elite has to learn to speak a new language ( for example, the word servant to describe household help must be junked immediately) and create a new identity. Else the future belongs to the dhartiputra and the cultural legacy of Nehru and Homi Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai and JRD Tata, Rukmini Devi Arundale and Pupul Jayakarsome great names of the Indian-educated classwill be lost forever. So get off Facebook and Twitter, Macaulayputras, and fight to keep your proud legacy untarnished!

Whatever the substance of the charges levelled by IAC, Kejriwal has tapped into a massive amount of suppressed anger against the Gandhis, anger stemming from their royal family airs and apparent conviction that they are blue bloods. A new agitated increasingly educated India is impatient with such pseudo royalty. When Rahul Gandhi tells a rally in Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh that UPites have been forced to become beggars in Mumbai, when he takes a British politician to spend a night at a Dalit home, when Sonia Gandi issues a two line royal edict from 10 Jan Path claiming Vadra has done no wrong and expects it to be swallowed by some mythical adoring mass of dynasty worshippers, these actions and statements are so

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BJP flays Vadra for


mango man comment
BJP today took strong exception to the use of the term mango man (aadm admi) for the common man by Congress chief Sonia Gandhis son--in-law Robert Vadra.
PTI, Oct 9, 2012

ew Delhi: BJP today took strong exception to the use of the term mango man (aadm admi) for the common man by Congress chief Sonia Gandhis sonin-law Robert Vadra and wondered how he could call India a banana republic when Congress is ruling the country.

What Robert Vadra has said is absolutely atrocious. It shows the mindset of Congress party Earlier, Shashi Tharoor (then Minister of State for External Affairs) had used the term cattle class for the common man. Now, Vadra has called them mango people, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters in reply to a question. Vadra had used the words mango man in a banana republic on his Facebook. He has called India a banana republic when his own party is in power. Congress should explain this, Javadekar said. Vadra has since closed his Facebook account. Tharoor had earned the ire of the people when he said on Twitter that he is travelling cattle class in a flight. He was referring to the economy class while expressing his disappointment at not travelling business class.

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realty tycoon, is not frisked


The countrys First Son-in-Law is up there with the likes of the President and the Dalai Lama in being exempted from airport frisking
FP Editors, Oct 6, 2012 hat is it about Robert Vadra, son-inlaw of Sonia Gandhi, that makes him on par with the President of India, the Prime Minister or the Dalai Lama, among other VVIPs? The answer, it seems, is that he is the only ordinary citizen who is never frisked at Indian airports (see the attached picture, Vadras name figures at the bottom). And its not because he is a real estate tycoon (courtesy, DLFs largeheartedness), as we learnt yesterday. Congress spokespersons were very voluble yesterday telling the media not to delve into the private business interests of Indias First Sonin-Law, but if he such a private person, why is he treated as Citizen Special at airports in the country? Why, in any case, should Vadra not be frisked like the rest of us? According an RTI reply given to a group called RTI Anonymous in March this year, P Chidambarams ministry gave Vadra this exemption because he is a special case The reply had this to say: Shri Robert Vadra has been granted exemption from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil airports in the country on the recommendation of this ministry as a special case as he is married to a SPG protectee, i.e. Smt Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, in consultation with central security agencies. But after this cryptic note, the ministry gives no further details, citing exemptions from disclosure. The details in this regard are exempted from disclosure under Section 24(1) of the RTI Act 2005. Shri Vadra has been exempted from pre-embarkation security checks at all civil air-

Why Robert Vadra, latest

ports only while travelling with SPG protectee, the reply further stated. (View the RTI reply). In other words, he wont be frisked when he is there with Priyanka Gandhi only. The civil aviation ministry is irritated with the sheer number of exceptions to the frisking rule at Indian airports. Thanks to the political need to pander to all kind of egos, the list now includes over a hundred types of VVIPs who cant be subjected to security checks, since it includes not only the President and the PM, but all cabinet ministers, all CMs, all Governors of states, all judges of the Supreme Court and all Chief Justices of high courts, the top military chiefs not to speak of the Dalai Lama and Vadra. According to an Indian Express report earlier this year, the aviation ministry is planning to prune this list to just a handful since the US government feels that this kind of exemption is inimical to security. The list may finally be down to just the President, Vice-President, the PM, the Speaker and the Dalai Lama. But even while bureaucrats and politicians haggle about who should be on the list, one wonders why one name cannot be struck off the list without argument: Robert Vadra. If he is busy doing sweetheart real estate deals with DLF and making a pile, as Arvind Kejriwal seemed to suggest yesterday (read all about it here), he can pay for his own security and does not need SPG cover. (Information courtesy Canary Trap) RTI Robert Vadra Airport Checks

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The Gandhi angle

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Saving Private Vadra:


The Congress needs a new script
The Congress is tripping itself up in its fiery zeal to save Private Citizen Robert Vadra. Didnt anyone tell them about the old Roosevelt advice: Speak softly and carry a big stick?

Sandip Roy, Oct 8, 2012 f only we could all be private citizens like Shri Robert Vadra. Khurshid told the media that we will obviously come out to defend Vadra because Kejriwals real target was the party leader herself. But thats only because Khurshid and Co are spelling it out. It shows clearly that for all its media-savvy spokesmen, its couplet-quoting ministers who grace literature festivals, and trade quips on talk shows with Oxbridge flair, the Congress media strategy has gone for a toss because Kejriwal has done the unthinkable. A stung Congress has ignored every rule in the crisis management media rulebook. There are many ways political parties contain the fallout from allegations like this. One can deny it stoutly and say Kejriwal should just go to the court to prove it and then claim
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Then the countrys finance minister would personally go over our papers and issue us clean chits. The countrys law minister would be acting as if he was our personal lawyer on television. The Congress rush to go on the offensive when it comes to defending Private Citizen Vadra has shown that the ghost of Giani Zail Singh who boasted that hed pick up a broom and be a sweeper if his leader asked him to do so, is still alive and well. The Congress new brooms definitely dont sweep cleaner. At least Zail Singh just offered to sweep the floor. Salman Khurshid has apparently offered to lay down his life for Sonia Gandhi, if needed.

the matter is sub judice, so no comments. One can use the private citizen argument to say Robert Vadra is a private citizen and the government has no comments on it. One can quietly distance Priyanka and Sonia from Robert Vadra. It is much easier to quietly dump a son-in-law than it is to dump a son. One can call it baseless and politically motivated and issue pieties about how no one is above the law and then ignore it until someone actually comes up with a smoking gun quid pro quo. A government has many tricks in its arsenal. It can maintain a faade of no comments and work behind the scenes to dead-end the story. It can sit on RTI requests, set up commissions that go nowhere, dig up the records of every transaction ever done by Kejriwal and Bhushans kith and kin, the way they went after Kiran Bedis economy flights. However when it comes to the Family, its clear no one in the Congress believes in Theodore Roosevelts advice: Speak softly and carry a big stick. The Congress chief has perfected the art of communicating by not talking. Her ministers are more than making up for it. The more Sonia does not talk, the more voluble her ministers become, walking off talk shows, ranting against her son-in-laws accuser and exposing themselves as courtiers falling over each other to prove themselves in some feudal loyalty test. In the process, the party is tripping itself up on its own logic in full media glare. Is it proper for a finance minister to personally peruse the financial records of a private citizen and then announce that to the media? Robert Vadra himself has said I am a private law-abiding citizen who has been engaged in business for the past 21 years. Yet the Congress finds itself unable to treat him as such. So a Manish Tewari rejects the demand for a probe saying An inquiry into what? Is a business transaction between two private entities duly reported to the statutory authorities illegal? On the other hand, a Salman Khurshid calls it a stealth attack on Sonia herself. The party has to make up its mind about who this is about a private citizen like Robert

Vadra or a public figure like Sonia Gandhi. Anyway its quite clear that Robert Vadra has always been happy to have his cake and eat it too. He is happy to walk through security checks without a patdown as if he is the Dalai Lama or the President of India. During the UP elections, this aam aadmi was leading motorcycle rallies and the IAS officer who dared stop him found himself coincidentally transferred out of Amethi. He breezily gave statements like Abhi Rahul ka time chal raha hai, phir Priyanka ka time aayega, phir parivar ke doosre (This is Rahul Gandhis time. After that will come Priyanka Gandhis time and also of other family members.) Firstposts Venky Vembu wrote at that time that his statements left the party red-faced. At a time when the Congress is walking on tiptoes to avoid drawing unflattering attention to the dynastic line of succession being drawn up for Rahul Gandhi, Vadras full-throttle acknowledgement of plans for the dynasty-in-law has caused the party profound embarrassment. But that embarrassment is nothing compared to the sight of a bevy of grown ministers and MPs falling over each other to defend the honour of damaad-ji. Manmohan Singh must be envious. As Monobina Gupta points out in her blog in The Times of India his party was far less robust when it comes to defending him whether in Parliament or when Mamata tried to kick him upstairs : In contrast, Manmohan Singh seems a lonely man, condemned to carrying the cross of his government, without much enthusiastic support from his colleagues. Before the government went on the reform binge, the most spirited defence for Singh that the fellow Congressmen have intoned from time to time is a somewhat limp reaffirmation about his impeccable personal integrity. The PM must be an even lonelier man now. His ministers and MPs have all deserted him and suddenly turned into PR flaks for a made-fortelevision movie called Saving Private Vadra.`
Copyright 2012 Firstpost

How does the Congress solve

a problem like Robert Vadra


The Congress is tripping itself up in its fiery zeal to save Private Citizen Robert Vadra. Didnt anyone tell them about the old Roosevelt advice: Speak softly and carry a big stick?
Aakar Patel, Oct 9, 2012

aari Khudai ek taraf, Joru ka bhai ek taraf

In the Bollywood saying, with all of creation on one side, the wifes brother alone on the other side is of equal value. Robert Vadra has weighed the options and, unfortunately for the Nehru-Gandhi family, picked saari khudai over his joru ka bhai.

The one asset that Sonia Gandhi built for her dynasty from the time she became its head was an image of reticence and service. She refused to become prime minister, her daughter Priyanka rejected the idea of contesting elections, and son Rahul remains reluctant to take on executive power in government. He would rather be someone who works with the grassroots. This image might have been built on selfish needs rather than selfless ones. For instance we had a hysterical Sushma Swaraj
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threatening to tonsure her head (a disturbing thought) if Sonia took office, and it is true that Priyanka still has the chance to come in, and it is true that Rahul Gandhi wields extraordinary power even without being a minister. But it is also true that the image of the family has held. At least till now. Has Robert Vadra taken advantage of his status in the Gandhi family? Reuters The damage that Vadra has wrought on Rahul Gandhis image as a well-meaning man, with none of the regular interests of Indian politicians (lining their pockets) will not be undone easily. Nehru-Gandhi ka naam poora mitti main milai diya, as one Gabbar said. It doesnt matter what Vadra says in his defence. He cannot normalize the transactions he has had with real estate giant DLF in the eyes of the media. Ive been a businessman and can tell you that it is unheard of that a company will offer 65 crore rupee advances to a partner doing business on the companys capital. There is absolutely no question that it is not an industry practice to hand over unsecured money of such sums. The real question is what this money was advanced for, and though I am nave I can see its not because it made great business sense. I suspect that ministers who line up to defend the Gandhis before even the facts have come out are unlikely to reject a request made by the familys members or their business partners. This is the truth in India, where relationships have always meant much more than propriety. Vadra says the allegations by Arvind Kejriwal

are defamatory. Ill wait for the case to be filed but I suspect it wont be. If it is, it wont be pursued. The other thing is the language that Vadra has used in his defence. He says that Kejriwals action is an attempt to manufacture lies against me and malign me and my family in order to gain cheap publicity and for the launch of their political party. This is not the language of a person who is wronged. It is the language of someone who is defensive. And it is political language. If Vadra doesnt know this, and said this in error, he is not the brilliant person that DLF clearly seems to think he is when they loaned him that money. To maintain their image as clean politicians, and they still have it, the Gandhi family must without delay set up an investigation into Vadras business deals. It must be independent of the government, and even if it doesnt satisfy the opposition (it wont), it must satisfy the media which is also, quite validly, asking the same questions now that Kejriwal is. If it fails to do this, the Gandhi family can kiss its aura goodbye. This means that the gentle treatment they receive from the media, and reverence, will be a thing of the past. Ghar jamaais in India usually mean trouble, and Vadra has just delivered a massive load of it on his in-laws doorstep. Priyanka Gandhi apparently fell in love with Vadra because as children he treated her as any other girl. A normal person and not one from such hallowed lineage. Somehow, I dont think thats how his partners in DLF see her.

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Robert Vadra, the wrong Gandhi,

and the Indian Rupee


Why are we willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to the dynasty?
Rajeev Srinivasan, Oct 8, 2012 read the posted list of people for whom normal security procedures do not apply, that is, they will not be frisked: the President, the Speaker of Parliament, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and about ten others in high positions. And then, oh, the only person explicitly identified by name, Robert Vadra. I couldnt find any rational reason for it, other than that, as First-Son-In-Law-To-The-Nation, it was only fair that Robert got some privileges. I know that in some parts of the country, sonsin-law are held in some esteem the words mappilai in Tamil and mappila in Malayalam come to mind. After all, if several hundred universities, research institutions, stadia, airports, urban renewal programs, awards, etc, are named after the Nehru Dynasty, there have to be fringe benefits for those who marry into the dynasty, too. Theyd feel pretty left out, otherwise. There is a certain sense of lse majest in the Indian media and among the Congress when it comes to the Dynasty: this is why there is righteous indignation about the questions raised about Sonia Gandhis travel expenses, and also about Robert Vadras millions. It is pretty much along the lines of, how dare you plebians question your betters? Fair enough. We plebians need to be put in our place.

ctivist Arvind Kejriwal made a splash with accusations about Robert Vadras real estate activities, and the astonishing speed with which the latter allegedly converted $97,000 into some $95 million. This latest juicy tidbit has pushed the other scams the country was all excited about such as the alleged money spent by Roberts mother-in-law on her travels to and medical treatment in the US out of the public eye.

The question is whether Kejriwal has dented the Congress further or thrown it another lifeline? Like the governments recent flurry of reforms, Kejriwals revelations could well divert attention from Coalgate, Thoriumgate, 3G-gate, CWGgate, and so forth. Besides, some believe that the party he floated could well be intended to fragment the opposition and anti-incumbent sentiment even though the Congress has accused Kejriwal of the opposite being the BJPs B-Team. Nevertheless, the information he has provided is quite interesting, and suggests an unholy nexus between Vadra and DLF, a big real estate developer. Now Robert is an interesting person. I was startled some time ago at an Indian airport to

Roberts rise from obscurity to multi-millionaire status on the basis of clever real-estate transactions reminded me powerfully of what was probably the very best Indian film of the last year: the Malayalam Indian Rupee. In that film illuminated by a bravura performance by the ailing Thilakan in one of his last roles Prithviraj plays a Kozhikode real-estate broker, who attempts to parlay a stake of Rs 25 lakh into a
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profit of Rs 9 crore. Prithviraj, who exhibits all the daring and hustle of a small-time con-man, needs to come up with Rs 1 crore in a hurry, and all he has is Rs 50 lakh borrowed from his fiancees brother. He turns to a desperate gamble he goes to a counterfeiter, who will give him 2-for-1, that is Rs 1 crore in fake notes in return for Rs 50 lakh in original, that is, real notes. (This sort of deal, alas, is not uncommon in Kerala, where highquality fake notes are in circulation in plenty, thanks to Pakistani presses.) The usually unflappable Prithviraj loses his cool and his stiff upper lip when the police come across one of these notes. In a tense and tightlyedited sequence that reminded me of the better thrillers from Hollywood, minus the car chases and guns (think French Connection or even The Conversation) Prithviraj escapes by the skin of his teeth after the authorities have identified

him. Chastened, Prithviraj and his accomplice burn the fake notes, all Rs 1 crore of them, and he relinquishes his high-stakes game, deciding to try and earn an honest living. There is a lesson in there somewhere for Robert Vadra. Later, there is a scene where the Thilakan character, the inmate of the Kasturba old peoples home in Mysore, is lying in state, having died before Prithviraj could come see him one last time. The words of Vaishnava Janato waft through the air, reminding us that there once was a man named Gandhi. I hope Robert Vadra sees this movie too, and remembers that not all Gandhis are his relatives.

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into Vadras tax returns?


Chidambarams comments certifying Vadras income tax returns as clean point to a disquieting exercise of his authority. For Kejriwals own sake, one hopes his aunts and uncles and nephews have a clean tax record or havent paid a bribe anywhere.
Venky Vembu, Oct 8, 2012 uess whos been taking a sneak peek into Sonia Gandhis son-in-law Robert Vadras income tax records? Looks like its Finance Minister P Chidambaram. On a visit to Mumbai on Saturday, Chidambaram offered the nearest thing to a clean chit for Vadra, who is facing allegations that his business dealings with real estate developer DLF, in which he allegedly received some preferential treatment, were perhaps tainted by quid pro quo considerations.

Why is Chidambaram peeking

Chidambaram said that the allegations levelled by anti-corruption activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan pertained to transactions between two private persons or entities and by their very nature, they could not be questioned on the basis of some imputed or implied act of corruption, DNA reports. Right from the hour that Kejriwal and Bhushan went public with their charge against Vadra and DLF, this has been the Congress leaderships unwavering line of defence: that Vadra was
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a private individual, and it was improper for anti-corruption activists who were preparing to launch a political career to play politics with his business dealings.

anything else?

Chidambarams off-the-cuff comments also expose the unlikely weapons in the governments and the Congress armoury if it wants to turn But the fallacy of that claim that Vadra is a the heat on Kejriwal and Bhushan for daring private citizen stands exposed from the manto take on Sonia Gandhis son-in-law. We saw ner in which an entire battalion of Congress one instance of that last year, when the governMinisters and leaders from Salman Khurshid ment sought to discredit Prashant Bhushan and to Jayanthi Natarajan to Rajiv Shukla have his father Shanthi Bhushan by planting media come rushing to the defence of Sonia Gandhis stories about their having secured land in Noida son-in-law. If he were truly a private citizen from the Uttar Pradesh government at conceswhy were ministers and party leaders queuing sional prices. Similarly, Kiran Bedi was badup to bat for Vadra? named as someone who fudged her travel bills when all she was guilty of was an inept and Vadra too invokes the same private citizen arnon-transparent attempt at cross-subsiding her gument to suggest that his business transactions NGOs services by billing those who could afwith DLF are not a matter of public scrutiny, ford to pay full fare for her travels and offering and that in any case he had made appropriate her services free to those who couldnt afford to filings with the Registrar of Companies and the pay. income tax department. But if he is a private citizen, how does one reconcile that with his The manifest attempt at that time was to subject statement in Amethi during the Uttar Pradesh anti-corruption activists to the tar-and-feathers Assembly elections last year, that he would treatment and drag them into the mud, so as to enter politics and that his time would come inhibit them from raising the pitch in their antiafter Rahuls and Priyankas time? corruption campaign. Curiously, Chidambaram also confirmed that the individual (as he referred to Vadra without naming him), had disclosed all these transactions in his income tax returns and other returns. That raises the question of whether and why Chidambaram (or one of his officials) had taken a peek into Vadras and his companies income tax returns and offer what sounds suspiciously like a clean chit to Vadra. If Vadra is a private citizen in the way that Chidambaram himself, and others, claim, under what authority did the Finance Minister make a statement on his tax returns? That authority, if anything, vests with income tax department officials, and although as Finance Minister, Chidambaram has oversight , it appears to be a disquieting exercise of his authority if thats what he has done. With his comments certifying the cleanliness of Vadras income tax returns, Chidambaram is effectively sending out a dog whistle to income tax officials on Vadras files. Is it Chidambarams job to issue such a certificate? Will any lower functionary in the income tax department say Even if Kejriwal, who was in government (and whose wife too serves in the Indian Revenue Service) has a clean record, theres nothing to stop this government from going on a fishing expedition to dig up dirt against their family or associates. You can be sure that if Kejriwals uncles tax return is less than perfect, or if Bhushans nephew has violated some building code regulation and built a balcony, this government will ferret out the information and make a big song-anddance of it in order to discredit Kejriwal and Bhushan. The strategy of shooting the messenger has worked admirably well for the Congress in the past. For your own sake, Kejriwal, I hope your assorted aunts and uncles and cousins have their noses clean. When the gloves come off, as they appear to have, theres no knowing how low the Dirty Tricks Department of this government will stoop.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

questions about Priyankas property


Kejriwal has asked the Himachal Pradesh government to reveal if Priyanka Gandhi owns any property in Shimla after getting the state governments permission.
Danish Raza, Oct 8, 2012 hile the Congress party is still recovering from the Robert Vadra-DLF bomb dropped by Arvind Kejriwal, the social activist today raised questions over property owned by Priyanka Gandhi in Himachal Pradesh after allegations were levelled against her by former state chief minister Shanta Kumar.

After Vadra, Kejriwal raises

Based on Kumars letter, India Against Corruption (IAC) issued a statement in which it said that the BJP state government in Himachal Pradesh should come clean on Priyankas properties in the state. We also know that no outsiders can buy property in Himachal without the state governments permission. If this is true, when was Priyanka Vadra given permission to buy property in the state and which government gave it? the IAC statement said. Shanta Kumar is saying he does not have information. We dont understand this. He can find this out very fast as his party is in power. We appeal to Shanta Kumar and Chief Minister PK Dhumal that they tell the public whether Priyanka has any property in Shimla as is alleged, it added. On the third day of his agitation against the hike in power tariffs, Kejriwal said that he will disclose more documents on Robert Vadra- DLF nexus tomorrow. He took to Twitter to forewarn the Congress.

Priyanka Vadras family has a property in Shimla. I dont have full information about this, but it has a value of crores of rupees. You should add this to your list. The whole country is with you in your fight, Kumar said in a letter written to Kejriwal yesterday.

Copyright 2012 Firstpost

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