The BJP-Congress slugfest turned into a no holds barred fight Sunday as the saffron party released a video and booklet on Robert Vadra’s alleged fraudulent land deals, prompting Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to say “a bunch of lies” would not silence her.
“They are baffled and running around like rats. I knew they would repeat their bunch of lies… Let them say whatever they want, I won’t keep quiet. I am waiting for them to say more,” retorted Priyanka as she campaigned in Rae Bareli.
The six-page booklet, titled Damaad Shri — The Vadra Get-Rich-Quick Model, and the eight-minute video accuse the businessman of making fraudulent land deals in Congress-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan (now under BJP rule since December 2013) with the help of the Gandhi family.
Speaking at a press conference to release the booklet, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad called it a “textbook case of corruption and crony capitalism under state patronage”.
The attack came a day after Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka had targeted BJP PM pick Narendra Modi and his Gujarat model of development.
Asserting that he did not believe in witch-hunts or politics of vendetta, of which he claimed to have been a “victim”, Modi, however, said the allegations against Vadra would be dealt with in the event of his coming to power.
He told PTI the “law will take its own course” but added, “An inquiry has to happen in an institutional manner as per due process without interference from any quarter. Such actions should never be guided by political considerations.”
Asserting that the Allahabad high court and Supreme Court had already rejected these charges, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “Narendra Modi and the BJP are panicking due to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s popular campaign in Rae Bareli and Amethi.”
The party said “Modi and company” had “lost their balance” in their “frustration and desperation” and were using the BJP’s “dirty tricks department” to level false and mischievous allegations against Vadra and the Gandhis.
In Gujarat, the Congress president’s political adviser Ahmed Patel dared the BJP to “launch any inquiry they wish into his (Vadra’s) land purchases”. Patel told NDTV that Vadra had not been shown any special favours and that the BJP was simply targeting him to get to the Gandhi family.
Questioning the timing of the video, the Aam Aadmi Party alleged a “secret understanding” between the BJP and the Gandhis on Vadra and asked why the saffron party had maintained a “mysterious silence” when Arvind Kejriwal had first raised the issue a year and a half ago.
Maintaining that the party’s focus was the issue of corruption and not a particular family or individual, Prasad demanded the Congress explain under whose patronage Vadra was allowed to carry out deals “violating environmental and land laws”.
Directing questions to Sonia and Rahul, the BJP asked if it wasn’t a fact that firms were “forced” to purchase land from Vadra’s companies at huge costs in Rajasthan. “The then Congress government in Rajasthan was working in perfect coordination with Vadra to facilitate huge returns for his investment,” Prasad alleged.
To Priyanka’s dig at Modi that one needed a “big heart” and not a “56-inch chest” to run the country, Prasad said, “Someone talks about a big heart. Whose big heart helped Robert Vadra establish his empire in such a short span with an initial investment of Rs 1 lakh?”