Nehru-Gandhi family which has exercised state power for decades and has been constantly asserting that only it has the right of being elected to power, got a telling blow in 2014 polls. One of the main reasons behind their defeat was allegations of financial impropriety against Robert Vadra, the present generation son in law of the Gandhis. The Gandhis were seen as catalyst to the massive wealth that he had amassed and the electorate in turn got infuriated.
Now, as 2019 polls are around the corner, allegations against Robert Vadra have come back to haunt the grand old party. As per recent reports, Robert Vadra’s close aide Sanjay Bhandari was in the race for Rafale deal and to be the offset partner of defence manufacturer Dassault. Union minister Gajendra Shekhawat has stated, “Sanjay Bhandari, who would book plane tickets for Vadra, get the interiors of Vadra’s London flat done, and handle his real estate deals, was seen with him at the Dubai Defence Expo. The Gandhi family wanted that the deal should be through Vadra’s company.”
After the MoU between Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries and Dassault for the Rafale deal had lapsed during the UPA era, Bhandari’s company, Offsets India Solutions (OIS) had approached Dassault for a possible tie-up. It has been reported by the Economic Times that there was “considerable pressure” for a slice of work. Therefore, as opposed to prime minister Modi intervening in favour of Reliance, it was during the UPA government that the Dassault was pressurized to choose OIS, one of whose promoters was Bhandari, a close aide of Robert Vadra as its offset partner. However, when Dassault came to know about Bhandari’s closeness to Robert Vadra, it ruled against any partnership with OIS. Moreover, after 2014 the electorate completely discarded the Congress and all attempts to compel Dassault into making OIS its offset partner failed miserably.
Bhandari’s OIS has a miserable track record. OIS virtually shut down in 2017 and Bhandari fled to London even as an investigation was initiated in February 2017. In fact, in May 2016 serious allegations surfaced against Bhandari. ED raided his offices in New Delhi on the charges of wrongly influencing defence deals. He was also booked under the Official Secrets Act. It is shocking that the Gandhi family and the Congress was ready to offer such a crucial deal to OIS having a miserable track record only because he shared a proximity with “the family’s” son-in-law.
It is therefore clear, that all allegations of foul play in the Rafale deal under the Modi government are politically motivated. The Congress is feeling insulted as to how someone having closeness to the Nehru-Gandhi family was denied a crucial defence partnership. It is accusing the Modi government of wrongfully interfering in the deal when in reality it was the UPA government that was guilty of such interference. This also makes it amply clear that the Congress is not at all concerned about national interest or national security. It is crying foul only because interests of “the family” and its friends have been harmed. Congress has not taken this well. In fact, it has taken the denial of partnership to Bhandari personally and is now trying to settle scores by portraying the Rafale deal as some sort of a scam. For the Congress, family interests remain the paramount consideration. In fact, it can go to any extent in safeguarding them, even if it means misleading the entire nation. But these reports could not have come at a better time for the BJP. Even as the Congress and the entire anti-Modi cabal is trying to make an issue of financial impropriety by the incumbent government out of the Rafale deal, these reports prove that it is the Congress led UPA government that was guilty. It also goes on to show that on the name of serving national interest, the Congress is only serving self interest and the interests of a family.