ET TU Vadra
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.
–Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 190-195
Robert Vadra looks neither lean nor hungry. His physique is of a man going to gym every day and his face has no tension lines, he seems sanguine, satisfied with life. So he cannot be a dangerous man according to the benchmark set by Julius Caesar.
But Lutyens zone churns out gossips, which, incredible it may sound, have a tendency of turning into facts. Recently, Vadra caused political tremors by saying that he did not need Priyanka for enhancing his life. This has caused flutter not only in the Congress camp but has led to speculations, which range from possible to bizarre about his future relations with the Gandhis.
A few months ago strong rumours floated that Vadra and Priyanka were living separately. But when seen together the rumours died down. But now circumstances have changed drastically. The mother and son are facing a criminal case, the party is in a shambles and no recovery seems possible. If in the on-going elections the party loses Assam and Kerala, it might not be long before the Congress becomes history. Any association with the family will, instead of being beneficial, be quite risky.
This statement about Priyanka is possibly like a Test Balloon. Vadra let loose the most ridiculous and unbelievable assertion that he did not need her for enhancing his life. Would the Congress Chief Minister Bhupinder Hooda have gone out of his way to help Vadra or shift the IAS officer who was digging out dirt against him from one place to another and would six or more ministers have come out to strongly defend Vadra whenever he would be under severe onslaught? By saying that he did not need Priyanka to enhance his life, he cannot hide the truth. But then why did he make such a comment which would hardly endear him with his in-laws?
It is possible that sharp and shrewd man that Vadra is he must have realised that association with the Gandhis could in future prove hazardous. Look at octogenarian Motilal Vora, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey, they are facing a possible jail term for no fault of their own.
In fact going through what Vadra has said, it seems he had a few well thought of objectives in giving those interviews. One, he wanted to counter perceptions in the people generally about his family—that it was not very middle class, it grew only after his marriage. In the earlier interviews he has said that in early 80s his father was one of the first to buy a Toyota. That he was flamboyant drove a soaped up car and dressed well. Now this was a clear attempt to show that his success in building his
businesses and wealth started much before his marriage. If this be the case, he owes nothing to his kinship with the Gandhis. Who would believe this? But such assertions could save him if Gandhis get into real trouble.
He seems utterly confident in his responses and also appears that he is sure he will be believed, and not challenged. But a large number who heard that Vadras had a small business—a survey around the time he got married had reportedly estimated a turn-over of Rs 90 lakhs to a crore, which possibly meant profit of Rs 10 lakhs or so.
Vadra has said that ‘they’ would have accepted him if he wore kurta, pyjama and chappals. He has not explained whom he meant by ‘they’.
Vadra has swept all the charges against him under the carpet and painted a picture of a hard-working and highly successful father. “My father gave me enough. I have been educated enough to sustain in all types of situations.” And he at least outwardly sounded unconcerned about the general perception about his land dealings; he also seems to be confident of overcoming all hurdles.
Saying that he was capable of withstanding pressures both political and otherwise because of the strong support of his family, Vadra, said” I am born and brought up here, would never leave my country, no pressure, even if I am humiliated. No matter what the government says, I have the ability to sustain and to absorb. I have a very strong and good family which gives me strength.” He has not clarified whom he means by family. A clever man he has kept all doors open.
By saying he did not need Priyanka to enhance his life, he has at the moment one feels, created a defence for himself in case the assets of Gandhis come to be scrutinised. “I have enough, I have always had enough. My father gave me enough. I have been educated enough to sustain in all types of situations.”
There is some speculation that while party needs dynamic leadership, his in-laws have not considered for him any role. When asked whether he would take the plunge into active politics, Vadra said, “I would not say never, let’s see what future has in store for me.” He has an idea about fighting elections. He has campaigned for his brother-in-law Rahul Gandhi and his mother-in-law Sonia Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh but has never made campaign speeches or taken part in political meetings.
When asked whether he planned to change that strategy, Vadra replied, “When people will call for me, when they think I can make some change, then only will I think of
joining politics. I understand my responsibilities. I know with which family I am associated, what they have done for generations. I have to make sure that I respect it.”
Please note he has paid tribute to the in-laws, which seems a bit odd in view of his comment that he did not need Priyanka to enhance his life. As said before he is not going to be Brutus to the Gandhis, he has just drawn a line of defence. He has iterated again and again that his land deals being probed in BJP-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan, was nothing, he was being subjected to a “political witch-hunt” and used as a “political tool”. He added that a distinction should be made between him as an individual conducting business like anyone else and the politics of the family of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “without constantly attempting to link the two”.
Freedom to express opinions in campuses and elsewhere, Vadra said,” I don’t say go against the nation. I am a proud Indian and I will abide by the norms but at the same time I have thoughts, I have ideology. I have the right to decide (what is) wrong and right. We can’t dictate to the youth. They are our future. We have to listen to them, understand them but we cannot threaten them or intimidate them.”
Son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the controversial businessman said a distinction should be made between him as an individual conducting business like anyone else and the politics of the family of his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “without constantly attempting to link the two”. Alleging that there was a “sustained political attack” on him, 46-year-old Vadra claimed that BJP was using attacks on him as a “political tool whenever they need to divert public attention”.
He averred that he had always conducted business transparently in accordance with the laws but he was being “singled out” and “lies” were spread which made it difficult for him at times to come to terms with the “way I have been portrayed”.
He told PTI that “perception about me seems to have become so deeply embedded that it seems as if the truth does not matter to anyone anymore”.
“The more they hound me, the more apparent it is becoming that they are using their acks on me as a political tool whenever they need to divert public attention.”
The Congress has declined to take any notice of what he has said about Priyanka. The rest of what he has talked about is more to defend himself, which is fair and justified.
It is likely that the Gandhis must be in communication with Vadra so as to settle Vadra’s grievances, if any. Both know all about each so they cannot blackmail each other. Vadra knows very well, no one else will welcome him. So it has to be a joined unit of Gandhis and Vadra. Swim or sink together !
By Vijay Dutt