Rahul Gandhi and His ‘Sweetheart Deals’ with Fly-by-Night Operators
How do parties and politicians fund themselves? Indian political parties were traditionally funded with cash i.e. black money. Many have now tried to get tax paid money due to the legislative changes and have started accepting donations either by cheque or through electoral bonds.
That, however, still does not fully answer the question. How many politicians lead a comfortable life without having any apparent and declared source of income? The Nehru-Gandhi family has been described by its supporters as India’s first family. It, therefore, should be a role model. Pt. Motilal Nehru gave up his law practice 98 years ago. Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru was a tall political leader who was never a practicing lawyer nor was Indiraji ever involved in any professional or business activity. The late Shri Rajiv Gandhi was an Indian Airlines pilot for a brief period and, thereafter, he was in full time politics. On the basis of the available information, neither Smt. Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul Gandhi have ever worked for a living.
For generations the family did not earn from any commercial ventures. They were in public service. Most people in public life sacrifice their commercial careers and lead a frugal life. Most members of the Nehru-Gandhi family studied outside the country for the last four generations. Not many of them excelled in scholarship, with Panditji as an exception. All have led more than a comfortable life. They enjoyed vacations at multiple domestic and international locations.
An expose by media organisations revealed that the family owned a farm house in South Delhi which is now owned by the brother and sister of current generation of the family. Periodically tenancies are created in favour of persons many of whom needed help when UPA was in power. A capital creation programme was launched. Rentals are paid by obliging tenants in advance. It is unlikely that the tenants ever needed to live in Delhi because they have had no business operation in Delhi. Not only did they pay large quantum of rentals as advance through make believe tenancies, they also apparently paid for a large number of employees who managed the estate. The amount collected from these tenants through advance rentals and subsequently, the tenancies enabled the creation of the capital. Several crores of this capital thus created was invested with the real estate company under cloud and which, like the tenants, entered into a ‘sweetheart deal’ that from the moment the proposed buyer paid the advance towards the real estate to be purchased, one was paid back annually under an ‘assured income programme’. He thus got back a large part of his investment and the real estate.
Amongst the names of the tenants, the critical person is Jignesh Shah of FTIL and the real estate developer is M/s. Unitech builder through Sanjay Chandra. Who else would enter into such a ‘sweetheart deals’ except the ‘fly-by-night’ operators who needed State patronage?
Compromise of public interest through such questionable deals
Besides the reasonable apprehensions of the tenancies being an investment of ‘political equity’ by those entering into the ‘sweetheart deals’, what happened to Jignesh Shah? He had two companies – one with large quantum of assets and the other which had ostensibly duped lakhs of investors. The investors were insisting that the Central Government amalgamate two companies and thus out of the amalgamated assets, the duped investors be paid. Till 2014, the UPA Government did not take any action. The investment of political equity have brought returns. It is only when the NDA Government under Shri Narendra Modi was formed that the Department of Company Affairs passed the amalgamation order which has been upheld by the Mumbai High Court and is now pending challenge in appeal before the Supreme Court. If the Government succeeds, the duped investors will get their investment back. You needed a ‘Chowkidar’ to catch a ‘Chor. ’With regard to Unitech, the less said the better. Besides the 2G involvement at the time the favours were shown, many flat buyers had been duped, their monies siphoned off and the banks were not paid back. The promoters, including one with whom Rahul Gandhi signed the arrangement, is still in prison. Under the ‘sweetheart deal’ out of the instalments paid, most have been repaid back under the ‘assured income scheme.’ Capital creation through ‘sweetheart deals’ is exactly what Rahul’s brother-in-law did.
Here is a man who makes reckless allegations without any basis. It was no rocket science for him to know who were conferring him with largesse. He aspires to be a Prime Minister. Such aspirants like Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion. They must be unsuspectable. With tainted hands, he must at least remember that ‘people in glass houses do not throw stones.’ The ‘Chowkidar’ has finally caught a ‘Chor.’
By Arun Jaitley
(Union Minister of Finance, Government of India)