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Posters appear supporting Robert Vadra as Congress candidate in Amethi, Smriti Irani tells locals to hide land documents because ‘Jijaji is coming’

"The people of Jagdishpur need to be careful now. If his brother-in-law knows Jagdishpur, then every village, every house, every person now needs to hide their property papers," Amethi MP Smriti Irani said, alluding to Robert Vadra's suspicious land deals during Congress governments.

A few days after Robert Vadra, the husband of Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra indicated that he was interested in running for Lok Sabha from the Amethi seat, the Gandhi family’s former stronghold, his posters were displayed at multiple places including at the Congress headquarters in the Gauriganj area of the region on 24th April.

Posters with the slogan “Amethi Ki Janta Kare Pukar, Robert Vadra Ab Ki Baar (Amethi’s people call for Robert Vadra this time)” were displayed which demanded him to be the party’s candidate for the Amethi Lok Sabha seat in the general election.

The 55-year-old ‘businessman’ recently expressed his desire to run for the Lok Sabha in an interview and voiced that he meets MPs from different political parties who offer to help him join their party and guarantee his victory in the elections. “I always wanted that Priyanka (Gandhi) should become an MP first and she reaches parliament, and then I feel, I can also come. I feel that I should become (MP) with my hard work, with blessings of Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party.”

‘Jijaji is coming, hide your land documents’: Smriti Irani tells locals in Amethi

Interestingly, on 24th April, Union Minister Smriti Irani took a swipe at both the Gandhi scion and his brother-in-law in a public meeting and stated, “One thing is worrying that Rahul Gandhi may or may not know anything, but his brother-in-law knows Jagdishpur. The people of Jagdishpur need to be careful now. If his brother-in-law knows Jagdishpur, then every village, every house, every person now needs to hide their property papers,” alluding to Robert Vadra’s suspicious land deals during Congress governments.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader mocked, “Jijaji ki nazar hai, saale sahab kya karenge [brother-in-law is eyeing the seat, what will he (Rahul Gandhi) do]? There was a time when people travelling in buses would leave their handkerchiefs to mark their seats so that no one sat on them. Rahul Gandhi will also come to mark his seat with a handkerchief because his brother-in-law is eyeing this seat.”

She also charged, “Has this ever happened? Just 27 days left for election, but Congress has not announced its candidate. Such arrogance. What I could do in five years, Rahul Gandhi could not do in 15.” Smriti Irani emerged as a “giant slayer” in the 2019 general election after wresting the Gandhi bastion seat away from Rahul Gandhi, who had been winning in Amethi since 2004.

The minister pointed out, “After the voting in Wayanad on April 26, Rahul Gandhi will come here to tell everyone that Amethi is his family and stoke the fire of casteism. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party rejected the invitation for the consecration ceremony of Lord Shri Ram in Ayodhya, but he will be seen roaming around the temples in Amethi. So there is a need to be careful and alert.”

Robert Vadra’s dubious land deals

Robert Vadra’s marriage into the Nehru-Gandhi family in 1997 brought him into the spotlight but since then he has been linked to allegations of land grabs and unethical business conduct. The year 2007 was exceptionally profitable for him. He formed numerous businesses in less than a year, including Sky Light Realty, North India IT Parks, Sky Light Hospitality, Real Earth Estates, and Blue Breeze Trading, which provides aircraft charter services. With a Rs 80-crore loan from DLF, his companies were able to purchase 29 high-value properties by 2010, in addition to Bedarwals Infra Projects, VRS Infrastructure and Nikhil International.

A 10,000-square-foot penthouse at the DLF Aralias complex for Rs 89.41 lakh, seven apartments at DLF Magnolia for Rs 5.2 crore, apartments at DLF Capital Greens for Rs 5.06 crore, and a DLF-owned plot in Delhi’s ultra-posh Greater Kailash-II area for Rs 1.21 crore were also obtained. Saket Courtyard Hospitality owns the 114-bed Hilton Garden Hotel in New Delhi. The acquisition cost Rs 31.7 crore. The investment amounts are all listed in the balance statements that his firms filed with the Registrar of firms, despite the fact that DLF’s press release asserted that some of these prices were “completely incorrect.”

In September 2018, Surendra Sharma, a resident of Rathiwas village in Gurugram, submitted a First Information Report (FIR) against Robert Vadra, former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others. According to him, Robert Vadra’s company, Skylight Hospitality, purchased 3.5 acres of land in Shikohpur village (now Sector 83) in Gurugram from Omkareswar Properties for 7.5 crores in 2008. The official complaint noted that Bhupinder Hooda had favoured Robert Vadra in the contract, causing significant losses for the exchequer.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda was charged in 2018 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in relation to a significant land purchase scandal. The charge sheet was submitted to Panchkula, Haryana’s special CBI court. The Haryana government authorized the state police to look into the 1500 crore Manesar land deal scandal that same year. Additionally, hundreds of acres of agricultural land in Bikaner, Manesar, Palwal, Hasanpur, and Mewat were purchased by companies linked to Vadra. His land deals in Rajasthan are also under scanner.

A complaint was filed in Karnataka Lokayukta in 2023 against Robert Vadra and Siddaramaiah about the unlawful seizure of 1,100 acres of land in and around Bengaluru, valued at Rs 9,600 crore and an investigation was started. N.R. Ramesh Bengaluru South District BJP unit president lodged 120 distinct complaints regarding the matter. He had filed ten different complaints, along with supporting documentation consisting of 3,728 pages of paperwork, 62 hours of video and over 900 photos.

According to the charge, the DLF Company of which Robert Vadra is a partner, embezzled Rs 9,600 crore, or 1,100 acres of government land during the Congress government’s rule from 2013 to 2018. The land is situated in the Bengaluru South Taluk villages of Peddanapalya, Varturu Narasipura, Varturu and Gangenahalli, based on the lawsuit. 

Notably, Robert Vadra had angrily pushed away the mic of a reporter when he was asked about his land deals in Haryana in 2014 and infamously snapped, “Are you serious? Are you serious? Are you nuts? What is wrong with you?”

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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