Rae Bareli/New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday strongly backed her son-in-law Robert Vadra against allegations that he owns a house in London, funded by an arms dealer, and dared the government to probe the matter “unbiasedly”.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of behaving like a “Shehenshah”, the Congress chief also hit out at the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government for its bash held to celebrate its two years in power.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back at Sonia Gandhi, saying that Vadra “has the blessings of 10 Janpath” which was the reason behind his wealth.
Sonia Gandhi, who was visiting her Lok Sabha constituency Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh, lashed out at the allegations against her son-in-law: “This is also a political conspiracy. What do you mean by ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’? Everyday they give excuses and level wrong allegations.”
“If this (allegation) is true, then they should conduct an unbiased probe. Everything will become clear,” said an angry Sonia Gandhi.
Senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya on Monday sought a detailed inquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the alleged involvement of Vadra in the 2009 purchase of a ‘benami’ or proxy-owned mansion in London.
The Congress chief, training her guns on Prime Minister Modi, said he was prime minister and not an emperor.
“Woh pradhanmantri hain, koi shehenshaah nahin ki janta unki saari baatein maane,” she said.
“I have never seen anything like this, Modi ji is the PM, and not a Shehenshah (King). Our nation is facing drought, poverty, farmers are in pain. At these times, such a ‘show’ is not appropriate,” she said of the gala event held in New Delhi on Saturday night by the government.
The BJP said the Congress president’s defence of her son-in-law vindicates the party’s old charge that whatever Vadra does has the backing of the Gandhi family.
“Vadra has the blessings of 10 Janpath…That is why he has earned so much money. He can’t be dubbed as a private citizen. Whatever he has done has the backing of Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi,” BJP National Secretary Srikant Sharma told IANS.
“You can’t separate Vadra from the Gandhi family. Sonia Gandhi coming out in support of Vadra has established our charges,” he added.
The BJP’s national media convenor said that the Congress president has been trying to “threaten” the BJP whenever there is a corruption charge against them.
“Congress has looted the nation and now they are coming out. Whenever there are corruption charges against the Congress and its family, they try to threaten us. We are not scared,” he said.
On Sonia Gandhi’s jibe at Prime Minister Modi that “he is the PM, and not a Shehenshah (emperor)”, Sharma said, “Modi ji is a ‘jan sewak’. Those who were Shehenshah are nowhere today. They were sent packing by voters in 2014.”
“Those emperors are now on bail in the National Herald case involving corruption of over Rs 5,000 crore. They are in panic and in frustration,” Sharma said obliquely referring to the Gandhi family.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh too launched a counter-attack on the Congress chief for her “Shehenshah” remark, saying there was “no place for any maharani too in a democracy”.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma accused the NDA government of failure to take action against those allegedly involved in corruption.
“What action have they taken against the son of Chhattisgarh Chief Minister? What about the cases against the Rajasthan Chief Minister? What has happened to the inquiry on Lalit Modi? Why haven’t they dismissed Eknath Khadse, their minister in Maharashtra who is facing allegations of land grabbing,” said Sharma at a press conference here.
“They have levelled enough allegations. We pose an open challenge to this government to release the list of names of Congress leaders who, they say, are accused of corruption. Are they facing any case in the country,” asked Sharma who is also Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
“They must tell the source of the thousands of crore that they have used to contest in elections,” said Sharma.
Sharma also accused the government of nurturing an environment in the country that has benefited “lumpen elements”.