New Delhi: Even as the government ruled out a probe into business dealings between Robert Vadra and realty major DLF, the war of words between activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal and Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law on the social media over the corruption charges continued to evoke sharp political reactions across the country on Monday.
While Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the government cannot look into private transactions unless there are specific allegations of corruption, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is said to be keen to raise the issue in Parliament during the winter session. The CPI-M also demanded a probe into the alleged financial dealing between Vadra and DLF. Kejriwal had alleged that DLF gave interest free loan of Rs 65 crore to Vadra and he bought the company's properties using the same money at rock-bottom price. The company as well as Vadra have denied the allegations.
In an interesting chain of events, Vadra on Monday deleted his Facebook account after a furore over his new status message that read, "Mango people in a banana republic," in an apparent dig at India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal and senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who on Friday levelled allegations of corruption against him.
The IAC demanded an apology from Vadra calling the comment ‘banana republic’ an insult to the country. Taking a dig, Kejriwal also responded to the Vadra’s Facebook post, by tweeting, "Evidence pouring in from mango men from across the country. Mango men wud prove to be nemesis for the 'powerful'." Vadra ultimately deleted his Facebook account with a last post, saying, "Obviously it seems I have people on my Facebook account who do not have a sense of humour. Everything I write becomes news and further debates on television?? I have decided to delete my account."
Kejriwal on Monday also tried to justify his stand, saying he was not pro-BJP by attacking party leader Shanta Kumar for asking IAC to include Priyanka Vadra's property in their fight on DLF-Robert Vadra issue, saying the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh has the details and it should make it public.
Kumar wrote the letter on Sunday, two days after Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan alleged that Vadra has business links with DLF and the realty major benefited by this. In the letter, the former Himachal Chief Minister commended Kejriwal for the fight against corruption and said, "Priyanka Vadra's family has a property in Shimla. I don't have full information about this but it has a value of crores of rupees. You should add this to your list. The whole country is with you in your fight."
Meanwhile, the Congress and its allies came out in full force to defend Vadra against allegations by Kejriwal. Hours after Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar backed Vadra, it was the turn of Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram to come out in defence of the Congress President's son-in-law.
The senior Congress leader on Monday while addressing the economic editors in New Delhi clarified that unless there were specific allegations of quid pro quo, the government cannot order investigations into deals between private entities.
Karnataka Govenror HR Bhardwaj, too, questioned Kejriwal's credentials for questioning Vadra. Bhardwaj took on Kejriwal and his colleagues, saying that they have been given too much importance. "Kejriwal is no expert. He was an IRS officer. I know Prashant and Shanti Bhushan. Shanti Bhushan dissolved seven Assemblies as law minister. We have given too much importance to these people," he said.
Earlier, key Congress ally Sharad Pawar had dared Kejriwal to go to court if he thought that his allegations about the Vadra-DLF deals were substantial. "If Kejriwal suspects there was wrongdoing, he should go to court. It has become fashionable to make allegations and ask the government to look into the matter. The wrong doer must be prosecuted and a criminal case must be filed," said Pawar in New Delhi on Sunday.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) supremo Lalu Prasad had also lashed out at Kejriwal for targeting Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law. "Kejriwal is doing it (raising alleged amassment of wealth by Vadra) to get cheap publicity," he said. He questioned Kejriwal's motive in bringing out the details of transactions between two private bodies.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), keen to put the Congress-led UPA on the mat, is likely raise the issue in Parliament during the winter session. The party had raised the Vadra-DLF deals on on March 15 through its Godda (Jharkhand) MP Nishikant Dubey.
Kejriwal had on Friday accused Vadra of financial improprieties in his business dealings with DLF, a charge that both parties dismissed. Kejriwal alleged that DLF gave an unsecured loan of Rs 65 crore to Vadra, who used the same money to buy DLF properties at rock-bottom prices.