This is the story, not a film review. This is the story of Vadra, a pan-Indian (perhaps international) hero, the hero of SoniaG revolution, the hero who wears a cowry on his necklace, heralded by Security Analysts.
INDIA TODAY ONLINE | New Delhi, October 10, 2012 | 11:36
Robert Vadra is from Moradabad, where his father Rajinder Vadra ran a brassware export business. His mother Maureen taught at a playschool in Delhi. Vadra studied at The British School and met Priyanka when she was 13. They got married in 1997, and have two children – son Raihan and daughter Miraya.
His father, from whom he was estranged, was found dead in a Delhi motel in 2009. His elder brother, Richard, committed suicide in 2003 and his sister, Michelle, died in a car accident in 2001.
Robert Vadra’s Rapid Rise
Vadra started Artex, a handicraft business, in 1997. He diversified into other areas, such as real estate, hospitality and charter aircraft. Realty firm DLF is his partner in real estate and hospitality.
His mother Maureen is a director in all his companiesâ€”Sky Light Hospitality, Sky Light Realty, North India IT Parks, Real Earth Estates and Blue Breeze Trading. All of them were registered between November 2007 and June 2008 with a paid-up share capital between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh.
Living the high life
A Page 3 regular, Vadra loves life in the fast lane. He is often seen at hip nightclubs in the Capital. A fitness fanatic, he flaunts his body in body-hugging designer clothes. He is a familiar face at all happening events, be it the F1 race or the Air Show at Hyderabad. Zips around in high-end bikes.
What has Arvind Kejriwal accused Robert Vadra of?
Arvind Kejriwal has accused Vadra of taking an interest-free loan of Rs 65 crore and heavy bargains on land from DLF Limited in exchange for political favors. Kejriwal has demanded a probe into the business dealings between Vadra and his companies and real estate giant DLF.
Who is Arvind Kejriwal?
A Ramon Magsaysay award winner, Arvind Kejriwal is a former Indian Revenue Service Official who is fighting for greater transparency in government. Earlier, he was part of Team Anna, however, he is now on his own after a fallout with Anna Hazare.
How has Vadra responded to the accusations?
Reacting to the accusations, Vadra, instead of speaking out to the media, hit out at the IAC saying, â€œMango men in banana republic.â€ He also tweeted saying, â€œEvidence pouring in from mango men from across the country. Mango men would prove to be nemesis for the powerful.â€
How has DLF responded to the allegations?
In its response to the allegations leveled by Arvind Kejriwal, DLF has said that all its transactions and dealings with Vadra have been clean and transparent. It said that there was no question of offering Vadra or his group companies any property at a throwaway price.
Taking stock of Vadra’s empire
Loan by Corporation Bank leads to Robert Vadra’s money trail
MAIL TODAY BUREAU | New Delhi, October 14, 2012 | 03:47
Social media has a new fix on Robert Vadra. Social media and Twitter in particular is not just relentless, but remorseless, it doesn’t spare anyone. After the welter of stories on his real estate deals, he has a new nomenclature – Bob the Builder. All his properties in public domain have been catalogued by Mail Today and the purchase amount is approximately Rs 33 crore. The estimated market value of these properties – land and apartments – is closer to Rs 300 crore.
In Bikaner alone, for some strange reason Robert Vadra has aggregated 733 acres of agricultural land as per the filings of his records with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). While only 161 acres is shown, Mail Today has found out that he actually purchased 733 acres in Bikaner.
The present market value of agricultural land in the same area is reported to be Rs 12 to Rs 14 lakh per acre, which means that this land if Vadra still owns it would be worth Rs 80 crore and change. Apparently, this fertile land is being acquired by different players for solar power stations.
What is central to the money trail tracing Vadra’s rise and rise as Bob the Builder is a purported loan of Rs 7.94 crore given by Corporation Bank, Friends Colony branch to Vadra’s company Sky Light Hospitality in 2007-08. This Rs 7.94 crore plus another intra group company loan from Artex of Rs 4.45 could be his launch pad.
The consolidated Rs 12.39 crore was obviously the corpus used by Vadra to purchase the 3.4 acres plot of land in Shikhopur, Manesar. Yes this is the same land which was sold to DLF against the advance of Rs 50 crore, where Vadra made a clear profit of Rs 42.61 crore. There is only one gap in this story. And that gap is as wide as the Atlantic Ocean between mainland Europe and the USA. Corporation Bank now claims that there is no evidence of an overdraft of Rs 7.94 crore in its books or the records of the Friends Colony branch which disbursed this.
Sky Light Hospitality’s filings with the RoC for the year 2007-08 clearly show Corporation Bank, Friends Colony having provided an O/D of Rs 7.94 crore. Now, this is a serious flaw if it is true because Corporation Bank has trashed this claim outright. In terms of corporate governance and transparency norms, this is a serious failing because it tantamount to creating accounting. Equally, the value of Vadra’s apartments in Aralias and Magnolias has ramped up substantively. Here again, he has ridden the price escalator perfectly.
Though the DLF offer document gives a price of Rs 2,373 to Rs 2,548 per sq feet, Vadra paid a handsome Rs 12,000 per sq ft, buying the 10,000 sq ft flat in Aralias for Rs 11.9 crore. This too is now worth a small fortune. The current market rate for Aralias is anything between Rs 38,000 to Rs 40,000 per sq ft. Again value buying. Similarly, he has bought seven flats in Magnolias at Rs 10,000 sq ft each. DLF’s offer document listed the price at Rs 5,898 per sq ft. Handsome profit yet again because the current market value of Magnolias is upwards of Rs 18,000 per sq ft.
One can argue that Vadra has been paid in spades for these investments. The moot point though is that as far back as 2007-08, when Vadra purchased these properties the difference in the offer price and the price paid by him was substantial.
Now, Robert Vadra’s Kerala land deals come under the scanner
RADHAKRISHNAN MG | Kochi, October 10, 2012 | 22:24
A prominent Malayalam newspaper has revealed another Kerala connection for the Vadras.
Real estate sharks from across the country are offering fancy prices and buying up lush green paddy lands and verdant islands around the three proposed bridges that will connect Kerala’s commercial capital of Kochi with Paravoor in Ernakulam district.
The bridges, coming over the sprawling backwaters, will reduce the present 24-km distance substantially, turning the scenic region into a dream location for high-end tourist resorts, hotels and farmhouses.
But what has made the deals intriguing is the speculation of Robert Vadra ‘s presence in most of the dealings.
According to Kerala Kaumudi, a prominent Malayalam newspaper that first broke the story, the buzz in and around Kochi is that most of the land being bought in the area, under different names that mainly belong to north India, are on behalf of Vadra.
“Although there is no proof as yet, everyone in the real estate business in Kochi has been, for some time now, talking about Vadra. The mere name evokes fear among land registration officials around the city, who refuse to utter a word when Vadra’s name is mentioned,” says journalist Sunesh Kumar, who investigated the story.
The paper has also revealed another Kerala connection for the Vadras. Kochi resident Sreenivasan Krishnan has replaced Priyanka Gandhi as the director of Blue Breeze Trading, a chartered-flight service provider which is under scrutiny for alleged corporate favours, as claimed by Arvind Kejriwal.
Krishnan, however, has refuted all allegations. “Priyanka, along with Robert Vadra, was the company’s director from November 2007 to July 2008. Neither Vadra nor Priyanka have an inch of land in Kerala. I challenge those who have made this baseless allegation that they are buying land in Kerala to prove the charges” he says.
A close associate of the Gandhi family, Krishnan became the director of the company after Priyanka resigned in July 2008, but quit in February 2011. “I had no investment in the company. Since the company was not doing too well, I lost interest and left in 2011”.
According to Krishnan, his father and former Kerala chief minister, late K. Karunakaran were close friends and neighbours in Trissur and it was his closeness to the Gandhi family, the Congress party and background in business administration that made the Vadras pick him as a director of Blue Breeze.
An IIM-Bangalore graduate of 1987, Krishnan runs Ashwin Enterprises, a prominent manpower company, in Kochi. Krishnan had also passed the civil service examination and was posted as news editor in Doordarshan, Trivandrum, for one year before being deputed to work as private secretary to Karunakaran in 1995.
He later went to Delhi as Chief Minister’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) and was part of Karunakaran’s personal staff when he became the union industries minister. It was during this time that he was introduced to the Gandhi family.
Complaint against Vadra in Jaipur court, hearing on Oct 18
PTI | New Delhi, October 11, 2012 | 23:22
Robert Vadra-DLF ‘links’ finally moved ahead of the phase of accusation against the former.
A lawyer today filed complaint in a local court seeking action against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra for his reported comment ‘Mango man in Banana republic’ on a social networking site.
The complaint in the court of Judicial Magistrate No.32 sought action against Vadra under section 121 (A) (sedition), 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups), 500 and 501 (defamation) of IPC.
Hearing in the matter is slated for October 18.
The lawyer, A C Upadhyay, alleged in his complaint that Vadra has insulted the Constitution and citizens of India with his comment.
He also produced clippings of newspapers as evidence.
The comment was made by Vadra recently on his facebook account after a controversy broke out over his business deals with realty major DLF.
Robert Vadra-DLF ‘links’: Ramdev says Priyanka Gandhi answerable for husband’s
HEADLINES TODAY BUREAU | New Delhi, October 10, 2012 | 20:37
Yoga guru-turned-activist Baba Ramdev on Wednesday jumped into the raging controversy over the alleged links of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra with real estate giant.
Ramdev, who has been fighting the central government on several fronts, dragged the Congress chiefâ€™s daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the controversy, saying that by virtue of being the businessmanâ€™s wife she was equally answerable.
He asked why only Vadra was being targeted by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal and his associates when the properties under question also belonged to his wife.
Congress issues gag order to its ministers on Kejriwal’s charges against Vadra
HEADLINES TODAY BUREAU | New Delhi, October 11, 2012 | 15:06
After several top ministers of the UPA government rushed to defend Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra following allegations made by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, the ruling party has issued a gag order to its leaders over the matter, sources told Headlines Today on Thursday.
Government sources said that the senior ministers from the Congress have been advised not to speak on the Vadra episode. The government’s stance is that there is no case against Vadra regarding the stinging allegations of his nexus with realty giant DLF.
Government sources also said that the issue was a matter between two private entities.
The aspiring politician has accused Vadra of benefiting from an unsecured loan by DLF in return for favours by the Congress government in Haryana.
Defending Vadra, some senior ministers, including Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Corporate Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily, had claimed that no case of wrongdoing was made out against the companies held by the influential businessman.
Allahabad HC admits plea against Robert Vadra over DLF links
HEADLINES TODAY BUREAU | Lucknow, October 11, 2012 | 13:52
Robert Vadra-DLF ‘links’ finally moved ahead of the phase of accusation against the former.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Thursday admitted a writ petition against Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra seeking direction for investigation against him into the allegations made by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal.
The high court issued a notice to the Centre over the issue. The government has been asked to reply to the notice by October 21.
A social activist, Nootan Thakur, had filed the PIL on Wednesday seeking direction to the Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) to get Kejriwal’s allegations related to transactions between Vadra and realty giant DLF probed.
Kejriwal had alleged that Vadra was sold properties by DLF at very cheap rates and to return the favours it got from the Congress government in Haryana. The Haryana government, DLF and Centre have strongly denied the charges.
Security analyst B. Raman comes to the rescue of Congress, after SoniaG goof-up
Priyanka calms panic in congress
Sri Lanka Guardian on October 12, 2012 | 11:37 AM
| by B. Raman
( October 12, 2012, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian )
After over 48 hours of panic over the allegations levelled by Shri Arvind Kejriwal of India Against Corruption (IAC) against Shri Robert Vadra, the husband of Ms.Priyanka Gandhi and the son-in-law of Mrs.Sonia Gandi, the President of the Congress, the Congress has cooled down and worked out a strategy of tiring out the IAC in general and Shri Kejriwal in particular.
2. It is reported that the initial panic was triggered by Mrs.Sonia Gandhi herself which led to the unwise intervention of a number of senior Ministers in support of Shri Vadra and the tactless remarks of Shri Vadra in his FB.
3. After this initial spectacle of chicken-like panic, Ms.Priyanka Gandhi, who is concerned over the likely impact of the allegations and the subsequent crisis management on the credibility and political future of the family and the Congress, reportedly stepped in to calm down the panic.
4.A new set of crisis management advisers not haunted by memories of the old Bofors controversy against Rajiv Gandhi, took advantage of certain evolving characteristics of L’Affaire Vadra. Firstly, there has been no smoking gun so far. Secondly, there has been no paper trail. Thirdly, Shri Vadra’s alleged involvement was with a listed company and not with shady individual businessmen, either in India or in the diaspora abroad. Fourthly, Shri Arvind Kejriwal, during his first two Press conferences, seem to have fired all his bullets without seriously hurting Shri Vadra. He does not appear to have any more unused bullets at his disposal. And, fifthly, by announcing beforehand that he would be exposing another prominent personality on October 16, Shri Kejriwal has set a trap for himself. Whether he targets another prominent personality or tries to re-use the same bullets against Shri Vadra, he will dilute the public focus on the Sonia Gandhi family.
5. Congress circles feel that the allegations made by Shri Kejriwal are nothing but re-cycled versions of allegations made by a national business daily earlier this year. Those allegations were not taken note of by the conventional media—print or TV—-, but were noted and exploited on the Net by a group of NRIs, which has been carrying on a campaign against Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family and in favour of the Hindutva organisations. This NRI group kept the allegations re-cycled through various means and these have now been picked up by Shri Kejriwal and his IAC. It is claimed that in addition to these re-cycled allegations from the Net, there have been no new allegations in the charges levelled by Shri Kejriwal.
6. These Congress circles draw attention to the intriguing coincidence between the campaign against Mrs. Sonia Gandhi unleashed by Shri Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, on the issue of her foreign travel expenditure and the campaign against Shri Vadra over his wealth unleashed by the IAC group. They suspect that the same group of pro-Hindutva NRIs is the inspiring force behind both the campaigns.
7. The initial panic was also caused by the dramatic projection to the viewers by the TV channels of the charges made by Shri Kejriwal against Shri Vadra. This panic has also since subsided. They point out how the TV pendulum dramatically swung towards Anna Hazare during his fast in August last year and then equally dramatically swung away from him when there were signs of agitation fatigue in Mumbai where Anna went for the second stage of his campaign. They are hoping that the TV pendulum, which has swung towards Shri Kejriwal, would similarly swing away from him if he keeps re-cycling old allegations.
8. The new strategy of the Congress is to give a long rope to Shri Kejriwal and not to do anything in panic. Unless Shri Kejriwal is able to come out with a smoking gun or new evidence, this strategy might work.
(The writer 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. E-mail:email@example.com Twitter @SORBONNE75)