iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Mahesh Langa and Kumar Uttam, Hindustan Times
Ahmedabad/New Delhi, April 14, 2014
A picture of Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra with industrialist Gautam Adani that went viral on Saturday has left the Congress red-faced, particularly after Rahul’s remark critising Modi of favouring Adani.  The BJP, making the most of the recent turn of tables, has hit back. BJP’s deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “A photograph (of Vadra and Adani) has created a lot of interest.

Congress vice president is talking about an industrialist, who is seen with Gandhi’s brother-in-law in that photograph. Would Gandhi like to say something about this?”

Prasad’s remarks came against the backdrop of an intense debate on social media about the photograph that shows Vadra in conversation with Adani.

The picture, which first appeared in a Gujarati newspaper, was also beamed across TV news channels creating discomfort in the Congress’ camp.

Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi, however, dismissed the issue saying, “Thousands of photographs appear what can one say about them”.

Vadra had visited Adani’s port and SEZ in Mundra in 2009 immediately after the UPA government had returned to power. According to sources, Vadra’s visit was facilitated by a union minister, who was close to the Adani group.

Interestingly, his visit had embarrassed the Gujarat Congress also because state leaders had then launched a campaign against Modi for favouring the Adani companies and giving away land to them at throw away prices.

“A section of the Gujarat Congress even raised the issue of Vadra’s visit before Sonia Gandhi, who was apparently unaware of Vadra’s meeting with Adani,” a source in Gujarat said.

The visit had happened in the background of UPA’s victory in the 2009 parliamentary polls when some top Congress ministers were not favourably inclined towards Adani because of his proximity to Modi.

“Except three or four senior leaders, other ministers holding key portfolios were not positive towards Adani and that was affecting his expansion plans,” a source said, adding, “Adani needed to show some balance so he probably got the visit organised with the help of a Union minister.

Adani group spokespersons refused to comment on the issue when contacted by Hindustan Times. Both Vadra and Sonia’s office could not be reached for comments.