New Delhi: India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal hit out at the Congress saying no Congress Chief Minister had the power to act against Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra. Reacting to the CNN-IBN report on Vadra's land deals in Rajasthan, Kejriwal said, "It's a clear case of corruption, he bought land at throw-away prices. He had prior information from the state government about the upcoming projects. Haryana gave Vadra a clean chit on Friday, Ashok Gehlot too will give him a clean chit. Vadra was right that it's a banana republic."
"Rajat Gupta was sentenced in US for insider information, but no such thing will happen in India as Vadra is Congress chief's son-in-law," Kejriwal added.
It wasn't just Haryana where Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra went on a land buying spree between 2008 and 2011. At least 20 plots measuring over 770 hectares were picked up by Vadra's firms in Bikaner, months after the Ashok Gehlot government assumed power in the state.
According to property agents in Bikaner, the land was barren and worth precious little at the time Vadra purchased it. However, its price has appreciated by as much as 40 times in three years. Most dealers agree that the escalation in the price is because of the industrial projects sanctioned for the region.
These sanctioned projects include:
- Solar projects under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Solar Mission,
- Rs 45,000 crore silicon chip project with Vavasi
- A power grid substation in Kolayat
Documents accessed by CNN-IBN show that between 2009 and 2011, Vadra's companies – Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd, Sky Light Realty Pvt Ltd, Real Earth Estates Pvt Ltd, North India IT Park Pvt Ltd and Blue Breeze Trading Pvt Ltd – purchased 770 hectares at an average price of Rs 40,000 to 50,000 per bigha. One bigha now costs between Rs 8 to 9 lakh in the area, with one hectare equaling just under four bighas.
The opposition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alleges a conspiracy, saying the Rajasthan government delayed identification of specific areas for the projects to provide unfair advantage to property buyers.
One Mahesh Nagar, brother of Haryana Congress leader Lalit Nagar, is the common link between Vadra's land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan. He has executed all lands deals on behalf of Vadra and his firms. In fact, the sellers found out that Vadra is the purchaser only after they received cheques signed by him.
Area dealers say that Vadra's companies sold off at least 300 bighas of land earlier in 2012 to a Spanish solar power company.
From Haryana to Rajasthan, Robert Vadra arguably found land deals to be his calling, all between 2008 and 2010, with public information suggesting all his purchases were in Congress-ruled states. As more information comes out, two specific questions are being raised:
- What was the source of funding for such massive land purchases?
- Were deals done on the basis of privileged information and access?
Robert Vadra paid Haryana farmers less than circle rate
CNN-IBN accessed documents showing how Vadra bought acres of land in the Mewat region of Haryana below the circle rate. The documents suggest Vadra has been on a property buying spree in Haryana and had picked up acres of land directly from farmers in 2008 and 2009.
Vadra's firm Real Earth Estates Ltd purchased over 27 acres in Mewat region and paid rates way lower than collector's fixed circle rates for the region. Villagers say land sale at rates lower than circle rates is common in Mewat. The Opposition now alleges low price land sale to Vadra should be investigated.
Documents in possession of CNN-IBN suggest Vadra bought land around Mewat at an average price of Rs 2.6 lakh an acre during 2009. Registration documents show a firm, Messrs Real Earth Estates Private Limited as the purchaser through its director Robert Vadra. Strangely, while the collector's circle rate for property in the villages Shakarpuri and Ferozepur Jhirka in Mewat is Rs 16 lakh per acre, Vadra's firm purchased land from the villagers at lesser rates.