While the controversy surrounding Congress President and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law, Robert Vadra, has rattled the Congress brass, some UPA allies are enjoying the turn of events.
Congress leaders, including Cabinet ministers, have gone all out to dismiss the allegations levelled against Vadra by India Against Corruption as “baseless and motivated”. But, leaders of UPA allies, DMK and NCP, are delighted that the Congress has lost its moral high ground, with the financial dealings of its first family under scrutiny. Till now, both allies were on the backfoot as the Karunanidhi clan and the Pawar clan had been connected with the telecom and irrigation scams, respectively.
DMK leader Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi was jailed in connection with the telecom scam, while his grand nephew, Dayanidhi Maran, had to quit the Cabinet for his alleged misdoings as telecom minister. NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s nephew, Ajit Pawar, quit recently as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra when allegations were raised against him over his role in the irrigation scam.
While the Bharatiya Janata Party’s reaction to the Vadra issue was on expected lines, what is likely to hurt the Congress the most is the animosity of its allies. Now, the UPA allies seem to sense an opportunity to settle scores with the Congress.
An NCP leader who did not want to be named said, “The Robert Vadra incident is absolutely indefensible. It is the hypocrisy of the Congress that all its ministers are out to defend a ‘private citizen’. It is for the first time in the UPA that the Gandhi family has been attacked. The shoe is now on the other foot.”
Another NCP leader was more forthcoming: “We are absolutely delighted at the developments. More such incidents should tumble out to bring the Congress on the mat.”
Publicly, the NCP continues to back the UPA. Sharad Pawar recently said: “This is becoming a trend that anyone levels allegations, then keeps mum and later asks the government to conduct a judicial probe. In such cases, anyone can approach the court. Kejriwal can also go to court.”
A senior DMK leader told Business Standard, “Why is there no action now against Vadra? What Kanimozhi had done was similar; she too took an interest-free loan. But look what she had to face. And Vadra, in his rebuttal, has not even refuted the charges, just termed them baseless.” The DMK has till now kept mum on the controversy and let the Congress fight its own battle.
In another development, Vadra on Monday shut down his account on Facebook. Sources said he closed down his account, but refused to specify the reasons behind it.
Meanwhile, coming to the defence of Vadra, Karnataka Governor H R Bhardwaj, who also had a stint as Union law minister, on Monday said many such charges made against the Gandhi family in the past “fell like nine pins”.
The party had been on the backfoot as its ministers Raja and Maran were booked in the 2G scam and the UPA coalition faced attack from all sides.