Haryana government springs to Vadra’s defence

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

Chandigarh : Haryana’s Bhupinder Singh Hooda government wants the whole world to believe that Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, has done no wrong in amassing huge chunks of land in the vicinity of New Delhi in recent years. Nor does it find anything amiss in Vadra’s Rs.58 crore deal with realty giant DLF for prime land in Manesar near Gurgaon.

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Backed by a team of “trusted” officers, two of whom have handled the crucial town and country planning and industries departments respectively for years since Hooda became chief minister in March 2005, the Haryana government has come out with many denials, clarifications and rebuttals after accusations were made by India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal and objections raised to the land deals by upright IAS officer Ashok Khemka.

Opposition leader Om Prakash Chautala and Kejriwal have accused the Hooda government of openly acting on behalf of colonisers and property dealers.

Khemka’s actions, as the director general of consolidation and inspector general of land registrations, in enquiring into Vadra’s land deals since 2005 and cancelling the mutation of the Rs.58 crore land deal between Vadra’s company and DLF for the Manesar land, left the Hooda government redfaced.

Two senior IAS officers, town and country planning director general T.C. Gupta and Haryana Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) managing director Rajeev Arora, who have been handling these crucial departments in the last few years, led the fire-fighting effort for the Hooda government, claiming that there was nothing wrong in the land deals of Vadra and his companies or the manner in which the Haryana government had been obliging DLF, the country’s biggest land developer, with huge investments in Gurgaon and other places in Haryana adjoining national capital New Delhi.

Hooda himself has either dismissed the charges or left it to his officials to defend his government.

The deputy commissioners of Gurgaon, Palwal, Faridabad and Mewat, who were ordered by Khemka to send reports on the land deals of Vadra and his companies since 2005, dutifully said that there was nothing wrong in any of the deals. Instead of sending the complete documents, the deputy commissioners gave a ‘clean chit’ to Vadra, saying that there was no loss to the state exchequer in his purchase of nearly 200 acres of land in their respective districts.

“I am no longer holding the office from where I ordered the inquiry. It is up to the state government now,” Khemka said.

The Hooda government is now trying to work out how to deal with the issue of the cancelled mutation of the Vadra-DLF land deal.

With constant media scrutiny on this issue, the Hooda government will have to come out with a legal coup to undo the cancellation done by Khemka.

Khemka, meanwhile, maintains that the aggrieved parties, Vadra and DLF, can approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek relief on his decision.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])