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Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday continued his attack on DLF, three days after he had accused the largest real estate developer for a nexus with Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and a possible quid pro quo between them. This time Kejriwal hit out at the Haryana government, too, calling it "DLF's agent" for showering the realtor with favours. He demanded a White Paper from the Haryana government on all the land it had given to the company, even as Vadra's "mango people (aam aadmi)" comment referring to Arvind Kejriwal and his associates and "banana republic" for India refused to die down.
Addressing a press conference in a packed hall at the Capital's Constitution Club, less than a km from Parliament, Kejriwal gave out papers to show Vadra's company, North India IT Parks Pvt Ltd, became a 50 per cent shareholder in DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd in October 2008. Of a total of 50,000 shares in DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd, Vadra's company bought 25,000 for Rs 2.5 lakh. After a year, in 2009, Vadra sold back the shares to DLF. DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd was set up in 2007.
DLF did not deny that Vadra's company was a 50 per cent shareholder in DLF SEZ Holdings. It added that these shares were bought back by DLF at the face value of Rs 2.5 lakh as the proposal to develop SEZs could not take off due to deep recession in the market in 2009. "No gain or benefit was made by Mr Vadra or DLF, in this regard," DLF said, adding that "Mr Vadra neither had nor has any interest in the various SEZs of DLF in any manner".
Giving a background, India Against Corruption's Kejriwal alleged that while 30 acres of land in Gurgaon was supposed to be used for constructing a hospital, the Haryana government issued notifications in 2006 and 2007 to allow DLF to use it for an SEZ. He also cited judgments by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the SEZ issue to establish the alleged nexus between DLF and the Haryana government.
The Haryana government has denied the allegation that land meant for setting up a hospital was released in favour of DLF.
While the Punjab and Haryana High Court had reversed the state government's SEZ decision, the Supreme Court had stayed it subsequently. DLF, in its reaction to Kejriwal's allegations, pointed out the Supreme Court stayed the high court's SEZ order through its orders of June 20 and September 26, 2011. "The matter is sub judice and awaiting hearing," DLF said.
Besides DLF, Kejriwal on Tuesday named two other real estate companies - BPTP and IndiaBulls - for their political linkages without providing any documentary evidence. He urged the people of the country to provide whatever proof they could on these companies.
Pointing out that the DLF-Vadra deals were a perfect case for income tax raids, Kejriwal argued that Finance Minister P Chidambaram sent out a veiled signal to the income tax department while defending Priyanka Gandhi's husband. "If the FM says there's no quid pro quo, the I-T department is unlikely to take any action on the DLF-Vadra deals," Kejriwal said.
Elaborating on the favours allegedly granted by the Haryana government to DLF, Kejriwal referred to the international bids for 350-acre land in Gurgaon. While bids were invited, only three companies participated: DLF, Unitech and Country Heights. According to Kejriwal, only the DLF bid was opened as others did not have experience in constructing and maintaining golf courses, a condition introduced at the time of evaluation of technical bids. "The other two bids were much more than DLF's," Kejriwal said.
To this allegation, DLF only maintained that this land was allotted through an international bidding tender.
Among other favours granted to DLF, he alleged an increase in the FAR (floor area ratio) for the company in Manesar and cancellation of the land acquisition provision once the realtor had taken possession of a majority of the land.
Calling DLF's earlier clarification "a bunch of lies", Kejriwal contested the company's claim that a business advance of Rs 65 crore was given to Vadra rather than an unsecured loan. He asserted an interest-free loan was given by DLF to Vadra. The amount loaned to Vadra was much more than Rs 65 crore, he said. DLF defended itself by saying all developments undertaken by DLF over the last four decades were strictly in compliance with the rules.
Incidentally, DLF launched its biggest mall in Noida on Tuesday, a step viewed as an attempt to deflect attention from the Vadra controversy.