The serious allegations levelled on October 5, 2012, by Mr Arvind Kejriwal and Mr Prashant Bhushan against Mr Robert Vadra, the husband of Ms Priyanka Gandhi and son-in-law of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Congress(I) President, cannot and should not be dismissed as politically motivated or opportunistic. They may ultimately turn out to be so, but till they are proved to be so, they have to be treated seriously.
The allegations, if true, indicate serious wrong-doing by Mr Vadra on two counts.
First, managing to obtain an unsecured loan from the DLF company and, second, unduly benefitting in some property transactions as a result of special consideration allegedly shown to him by the DLF.
The public perception will be that he benefitted in this transaction not on merits, but by virtue of his relationship with Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi. The allegations will create doubts about the personal honour and integrity of Mr Vadra.
It is for Mr Vadra to prove these allegations to be wrong and misplaced and establish his integrity and honour. He should not benefit from his relationship with Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi for doing so.
As of now, unless it is established that Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi were aware of his alleged wrong-doings and did not try to stop them, they have no responsibility for proving their innocence. It is for Mr Vadra to prove his innocence.
Mr Vadra has two options:
- If it is his contention that the allegations against him are baseless, he can file a suit for criminal defamation against Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan.
- On the other hand, if it is his contention that there has been a wrong and misleading interpretation of some facts to defame him, he should place his version before the public with the help of documentary evidence supporting his contention.
He seems to be trying to avoid countering the allegations head-on and take cover behind the authority of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who also seems to be unwisely trying to extend her protection to the alleged wrong-doings of her son-in-law. She and her party does not seem to realise that this could ultimately lead to Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka being viewed as accomplices after the commission of wrong-doing and cast suspicions on their honour and integrity.
It is time for Mr Vadra to come to the forefront and defend his honour and integrity with the help of his lawyers. It is not for the government or the Congress to give him any legal assistance.
B. Raman is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies.