Once again, shameless nepotism is on display in the Congress. The dynastic party appointed Priyanka Gandhi as General Secretary in Uttar Pradesh. According to an article published in Republic World, Priyanka Gandhi may contest elections from her mother’s Lok Sabha constituency of Rae Bareli and her husband and Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, Robert Vadra, could be top a campaigner for the party in UP. Robert Vadra, the real estate mogul who is under investigation for multiple charges of corruption, will be campaigning for his clan in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. This gamble is certainly going to rattle the party’s position in UP which is considered the kingmaker state with 80 Lok Sabha constituencies.
Vadra is a bad choice for this role because his image is tainted with multiple corruption charges. He is already under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate for carrying out shady land deals in Bikaner, Rajasthan. His company, Skylight Hospitality Private Limited, is said to have bought land for a little over Rs. 1 Lakh/hectare in Bikaner in 2010 and in January, 2012, he sold the 69.55 hectares of bought land in two deals for 7.41 lakh/hectare, seven times higher than the purchase price two years before the sale, amounting to about Rs. 5.15 Crore. The land was bought by Allegeny Finlease Private Limited (AFPL), which had received a loan of Rs. 5.55 crores, from a power and steel giant Bhushan Power & Steel Limited (BPSL) around the same time. But there have been no reports of repayment to BPSL by AFPL as per AFPL’s filings with the Registrar of Companies.
Yet, this is not the first time Robert Vadra’s infamous Skylight Hospitality has been accused of involvement in questionable land deals. In 2017, the Justice SN Dhingra Commission concluded that Robert Vadra made illegal profits of Rs 50.5 crore from a land deal in Haryana in 2008. There is no end to such fraudulent transactions made by his company in Haryana and Rajasthan many of which are under probe. ED carried out raids in delhi over Robert Vadra’s connection with the fugitive Sanjay Bhandari in December as well. According to media reports, Sanjay Bhandari forged a parallel political-bureaucratic network to provide him assistance and influence the arms deals conducted under the UPA regimes. Bhandari’s company 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. He was also booked under the Official Secrets Act.
These corruption charges don’t seem to be good enough reason to disqualify Vadra from becoming top campaigner but we cannot expect any better from the party that puts dynasty first. Bursting the Congress party’s bubble, Union Minister Smriti Irani, Rahul Gandhi’s previous rival in Amethi, said that Priyanka Gandhi’s elevation was tantamount to an official admission of Rahul Gandhi’s failure in the state. Perhaps putting Vadra in charge of campaigning is a signal that the Congress is aware of its bleak future in UP. Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra are being scapegoated in a state where voters are have gained cognizance of the Congress’ corrupt nature. The party has conceded defeat in the state already.