Thursday, September 29th, 2022 07:48:42

Vadra: Danger To The Dynasty And The Damaads Species

Updated: May 10, 2014 11:03 am

Robert Vadra, variously called national jammai babu, royal son-in-law, has been the most protected and privileged one of his species, simply because he is jammai babu of Sonia Gandhi

The sons-in-laws have by tradition been the most privileged species in India. This is not due to some saying by Manu but because the happiness of a daughter of a family is in the hands of her husband. Naturally, therefore, Robert Vadra, variously called national jammai babu, royal son-in-law, has been the most protected and privileged one of his species, simply because he is jammai babu of Sonia Gandhi. He is an SPG protectee and is exempted from frisking at airports, which is only accorded to President, Prime Minister and such VVIPs.

But his placid world allegedly worth Rs 325 crore was severely jolted when Narendra Modi made his rise from Rs one lakh to Rs 325 crore an election issue. “Dump ma-bete ki sarkar because it works for jijaji,” he said at a rally in Chhattisgarh. This was picked by various channels. India Times gave long details of Vadra’s assets. He alleged that ma-bete ki sarkar benefited Vadra to make Rs 325 crore from Rs one lakh in just three years. If true, it is an outstanding feat of which even the late Dhirubhai Ambani would have been envious.

Modi possibly heard one person demanding that the damad (Vadra) be made an election issue. “He has looted several farmers and poor to make money through grabbed, snatched lands….” “2G, 3G, Jija-ji” was his jibe that made headlines.

The Wall Street Journal made a revelation in its latest report about Robert Vadra, who has been the focus of a number of real estate-related controversies. According to the report, Vadra had real estate wealth worth Rs 252 crore in 2012 and had sold a property worth Rs 72 crore mounting his total property wealth to Rs 324 crore in the same year.

The report has been calculated, based on a review of company filings, land records and interviews with property experts. The report said that Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra had started buying properties from 2009 and the value of it rose six times going up to Rs 300 crore. It also added that 44-year-old Vadra only pursued education till high school but despite it and no experience in property development amassed a large real-estate portfolio.

Mahesh Nagar’s name appears on land office documents as the facilitator for land deals for India’s politically powerful Gandhi family. Over four years, from 2009 to 2012, Nagar bought and sold tracts of land in Rajasthan on behalf of Vadra. Aggressively taking on the issue of alleged land scams involving Vadra, the BJP demanded setting up of a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to examine Vadra’s land deals across Congress-ruled states like Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan.

“Our demand is that the SIT, which should be a multi-disciplinary authority to examine the alleged violation of the banking law, company law and income-tax law through these land deals, be set up and the probe monitored by the Supreme Court,” BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters outside the Parliament. Sinha tried to raise the issue in Lok Sabha, starting by mocking Vadra over his “unique business model where crores of rupees are made without investing any money”, the Congress MPs raised an uproar and trooped into the well of the House. The Speaker then adjourned the House till noon.

Even after the Lok Sabha resumed business, the BJP sustained the attack by raising the slogan “Congress ka haath, damaad ke saath”. This was immediately countered by the Congress MPs who shouted “Congress ka haath Soniaji ke saath, desh ke saath, garib ke saath”. The House was subsequently adjourned till 2 pm. Yashwant Sinha was relentless and launched a verbal attack against Vadra outside Parliament. “There may be many successful business models, but Robert Vadra has presented this country with a unique model where hundreds of crores of rupees can be made just by manipulation of land deals. I suggest that the one behind this unique business model be honoured by starting a Vadra School of Management.

“Finance Minister P Chidambaram should get himself admitted in this management school and taught how to earn profits worth hundreds of crores without making any investments. He can apply the model to resurrect the Indian economy and arrest the fall of the rupee.”

Comments in a surfeit were very vitriolic. One said If Congress leaders are saying that nothing illegal was done in this Vadra deal then can these Congress leaders promise that ordinary citizens will also be given incentive to make such deals without any investment money? Another one suggested that a PIL should be filed before the Supreme Court against Robert Vadra land deals on pattern of a PIL filed against Jagan Mohan Reddy in the High Court of Andhra Pradesh. Another wanted to join Vadra school of economics and learn to earn without investing. “To earn huge money in India without capital expenditure, merit, qualitative service, join politics or try to be a son/daughter/son-in law/ daughter-in law of a corrupted politicians or a leader of a reputed corrupted political party–opportunity unlimited!”

The report says that Mahesh Nagar also bought land for Vadra’s brother-in-law and Sonia’s son Rahul Gandhi in Haryana in 2008. He keeps a low profile and people do not know a lot about him. He told WSJ that he has never met the Gandhi family ever but has performed land dealings for them. Meanwhile, Robert Vadra’s spokesperson has told ABP News that it is a political conspiracy to malign Vadra’s name and all dealings have been conducted through a legal process. But Vijay Sonkar Shastri said, “There should be a probe into Vadra’s real estate transactions and action must be taken.”

The Haryana government has kept an eye on any critics of Vadra’s land dealings within its territory. In December 2013, it charge-sheeted whistleblower IAS officer Ashok Khemka in connection with cancellation of the mutation of a land deal between Robert Vadra and real estate major DLF in Gurgaon in October 2012. India Against Corruption (IAC) alleged that all of Vadra’s companies had no income from legitimate business activity and yet Vadra managed to buy properties worth Rs 300 crore.

But trashing these claims and taking the wind out of the IAC sails, DLF Ltd said in a detailed press statement: “We wish to categorically state that the DLF has given NO unsecured loans to Mr Vadra or any of his companies. An amount of Rs 65 crore was given as business advances for the purchase of land as per standard industry practice comprising the following two transactions. M/s Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd approached us in FY 2008-09 to sell a piece of land measuring approximately 3.5 acres just off NH 8 in village Sikohpur, district Gurgaon. This was licensable to develop a commercial complex and the LoI (letter of intent) from the Haryana government to develop it for a commercial complex had been received in March 2008 itself. DLF agreed to buy the said plot, given its licensing status and its attractiveness as a business proposition for a total consideration of Rs 58 crore.”

The possession of the said plot was taken over by DLF in FY 2008-09 itself and a total sum of Rs.50 crore was given as advance in instalments against the purchase consideration. “M/s Sky Light group of companies also offered us in FY 2008-09 an opportunity to purchase a large land parcel in Faridabad and, accordingly, DLF agreed to advance Rs 15 crore in instalments simultaneous to the commencement of due diligence of the said land parcel. After concluding that the said land had certain legal infirmities, we decided against its purchase. Accordingly, on DLF’s request, the Sky Light group refunded the advance of Rs 15 crore in totality. To reiterate, at no stage was interest-free loan ever given to the group. There were two sets of business advances against the purchase of property, one of which amounting to Rs 50 crore resulted in a satisfactory conclusion of purchase of commercial land and the second advance of Rs 15 crore was fully refunded.”

Vadra is also a director in Blue Breeze Trading, Sky Light Realty, Real Earth Estates and North India IT Parks. He is the additional director in Lambordar Art Enterprises, and the managing director in Lifeline Agrotech, Greenwave Agro, Right Line Agriculture, Future Infra Agro, Best Seasons Agro and Primetime Agro.

However, sample the alleged modus operandi. Skylight Hospitality Pvt Ltd is the centrifuge of Robert Vadra’s business empire. The company in which Vadra is a director had received Rs 65 crore as advance from DLF Ltd as on March 31, 2011. Arvind Kejriwal and Co. are alleging that this advance received by Vadra was used to purchase a welter of properties from DLF at below market prices.

Vadra received a business advance of Rs.65 crore as the total price paid for one plot of land which was bought and duly registered on the National Highway 8. Skylight Hospitality, with a registered address at 268, Sukhdev Vihar, was incorporated on November 1, 2007, as a company listed by shares with an authorised capital of Rs.1 crore and a paid up capital of Rs.5 lakh, and the registration number of 170056.

A top BJP politician asked whether a transaction between two entities of this magnitude is par for the course and if the UPA chairperson’s (Sonia Gandhi’s) son-in-law was not involved.

Rajiv Shukla, Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, bristling with anger, hit back, saying the allegation were nothing new. “A year ago he (Kejriwal) tried to sell it to the newspapers but nobody bothered. Now he is trying again. Vadra is a businessman, he is not doing kheti (farming). All businessmen take loans to build their business. Maybe Vadra also did that. What is wrong with that? But there is nothing to prove any wrongdoing… No proof that the Congress helped the DLF.”

Arvind Kejriwal said: “I am ready to face defamation charges if the allegations against Vadra are proved wrong. Why is the Congress silent on the merits of the case?” Surprisingly Vadra came out with all guns blazing. He defended himself stoutly on Facebook. “Thanks so much for your concern, I am fine, I can handle all the negativity. I have lost people who I loved, what can be worse than that?” he asked.

But the question is why no party leader has defended Vadra. Normally when the Gandhis come under fire, the entire party leaders go overboard in defending them. The UPA took no action, however, because Vadra is the son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi. Although Manish Tewari said, a response needed to be given to expose the BJP for resorting to low-level politics against the Congress by involving private citizens.

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in response to a query on whether the government will probe the allegations: “I’m not aware of the rightness or wrongness of the allegations…. Transactions between two private individuals cannot be questioned on the basis of an implied act of corruption.” Now Priyanka has said emotionally that her family is being defamed and humiliated. But she did not refute the charges made by Modi. Sources say there is some twitching of thumbs since he has made it an election issue.

Leadership Can Build Culture Of Trust And Growth

In the turbulent times today, when scams and corruption are reigning supreme and investors do not find a climate of trust, our economy has been hit. No one can trust the government for business nor is there law and order to ensure justice as courts delay cases denying the remedial measures for anyone. Dev Sodman, founder of an American company that offers advice on ethics and governance to global companies, very aptly put it that if two persons compete to jump high, a person who is jumping on sand cannot jump higher than a person who is jumping from a hard ground. He feels if any country wants to achieve higher growth fast that nation has to ensure that there is hard ground of trust in the government and society to ensure it. Without trust neither will the government nor will the business will succeed.r

In India the culture of trust has been badly shaken with political decline of ethics and rampant corruption. This can only be tackled if there is a leader committed to values and he gears up the machinery of government to perform with some degree of reliability without scams. Simply passing of Lok Pal bill is no solution as it needs to be implemented and it needs independent agencies to implement it. Unfortunately the entire approach of the state is to invoke legislative measures to achieve objectives of removing poverty or controlling graft. Most important thing is to ensure good governance which has suffered constant setback in recent years. International agencies also have displayed their dissatisfaction with the existing rot in the system.

A respected international journal has headlined on its cover that India needs to take corruption more seriously as it is hurting economy. Even the Supreme Court has chastised government for lackluster performance on brining black money back from foreign banks.

The culture of trust requires strong implementation of law, sustained work culture, credibility and truth in dealings of authorities. Judicial system of the country ensures constitutional framework to function but due to delay in our courts 30 millions of cases are piling up that take away the very foundation of the system to ensure fair play and justice to the citizens. It is the largest number of delayed cases in the world. When it comes to our higher judiciary there is a satisfactory degree of upright consideration and judgments but the lower judiciary remains handicapped due to lack of staff or either judges. The reform of the entire organisation structure to ensure more courts and judges besides simplification of law is the highest priority for a progressive nation and we have neglected it for long.

Reforms and improvements have remained dormant due to indecisive leadership. Creating climate of trust needs clean and decisive leadership. Some time the blame for this is given to coalition system but within constraints it is possible to push through the reforms as was done in case of nuclear deal but in other cases of ensuring good governance no efforts have been made. An intellectually bright, innovative and purposeful leader can push the system. Our leaders have academic qualification but they lack commitment to national objectives and are not putting enough efforts to ensure a clean culture of trust and justice. Even in states the Chief Ministers promote chamcha culture and do not care for open and progressive culture to get the best talent. As a result, this malady is sinking downward to village level. The fuzzy leadership at the top has brought similar situation in states and villages as a polluted system promotes graft and crony capitalism.

By NK Singh


On Nepotism: Congress & Sardar Patel Are Poles Apart

Who is Robert Vadra? Who is Dahyabhai Patel? The entire country knows that the former is the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and a multi-crore businessman who was in news for wrong reasons recently. But the present generation of people, and even politicians, will not be able to recollect who this Dahyabhai Patel is.

Robert Vadra is alleged to have been given largesse by the Congress-led Haryana government headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda. When the alleged scam surfaced, there was a demand for a probe. The investigation resulted in the hounding of an honest IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who continues to run from pillar to post for a posting.

Now let’s come to Dahyabhai Patel. He is the son of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, country’s first deputy Prime Minister who presided over the Union Home Ministry. Dahyabhai was an electrical contractor by profession and an electrical engineer by qualification. In the undivided India before Partition and Independence, Dahyabhai had business in Karachi, Bombay and Ahmedabad.

In order to put the issue in proper per spective for this present story, now let me quickly recall the statements made by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. Both of them recently said that Sardar Patel belonged to Congress and they were proud to belong to the party to which Patel belonged.

But has the conduct of the present Congress—with particular reference to Robert Vadra—made them feel proud or hang their head in shame? The entire Congress leadership as well as the UPA government maintained a stoic silence, sycophants of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi including ministers and leaders, had a sheepish smile when allegations of corruption involving Robert Vadra surfaced in Haryana.

Not one Congress leader in the party or minister in the government had that moral fiber to urge Sonia Gandhi to restrain her son-in-law from entering into fictitious land deals that would damage and shatter the party’s credibility and image, whatever that was left. On the other hand, they sought to justify—most vocal was Kapil Sibal, the personification of intellectual arrogance—Vadra’s land dealings on the specious grounds that he (Robert Vadra) was a businessman and the Congress party or the Congress-led UPA had nothing to do with an “individual”.

But not one had any explanation when documents after documents poured out of Ashok Khemka’s investigation proving that rules were bent, regulations were thrown to wind, acts were bypassed and cabinet was circumvented by the Haryana Congress government headed by Bhupinder Singh Hooda to show favour to Robert Vadra.

On the other hand, what was the attitude and approach of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to his son Dahyabhai’s business interest? I have with me a copy of the letter written by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Ajit Prasad Jain, the then Minister of State for Rehabilitation. In this letter, dated August 22, 1950, Sardar Patel writes clearly and categorically thus:

“I learnt only this morning that, in regard to certain matters concerning his interests in the Electric Supply Company at Karachi, Dahyabhai has been approaching you or/and your ministry with some proposals for exchange of property or shares. While Dahyabhai’s personal and business interests are his own affairs and I have nothing to do with them—nor do I take any interest in them—it is impossible for me to prevent him from safeguarding or promoting those interests.

“All that I am interested in is to ens        ure that no consideration is extended to him because he happens to be my son. I would, therefore, like you to see that no such consideration is extended to him and if you or/and your ministry have to deal with any of his requests or representations, it must be purely from the ‘impersonal’ point of view and strictly on merits,—it being clearly understood that I have nothing to do with them”. Sardar was unambiguous in his approach that the Union government should show no nepotism to his son in his business interests.

To Sardar Patel’s letter dated August 22, 1950, the reply from Ajit Prasad Jain is also equally graceful and reciprocal. In his letter dated same day (August 22, 1950), Jain writes to Sardar Patel, “Thanks for your letter dated August 22. I never have any doubt that you would like me to approach the matter from an impersonal point of view and strictly on merits. Orders in this case had been passed some time ago.”

That was the moral fiber and ethical courage of both Sardar Patel and Ajit Jain on the issue of nepotism; that was the clarity and conviction both these leaders—belonging to Congress—had in those days.

Can Dr Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi or any one of the leaders in the country’s oldest party or in the government speak or take a stance like that of Sardar Patel vis-à-vis Robert Vadra? Defnitely no; rather never in their life time can they speak like this or take a stance like that of Sardar. Then what is the point in claiming that they are proud of belonging to the Congress to which Patel too belonged?

It is not only on the issue of Robert Vadra that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have maintained a “Sphinx-like” silence. Recently, a Russian and a German magazine gave a detailed story of the late Rajiv Gandhi’s family having huge amounts stashed in Swiss banks.

All that Sonia ought to have done is to deny and rubbish the story or file a defamation suit against the magazines for “conducting a slanderous and malicious campaign” against her family.

All that the country heard on these allegations from Sonia and everybody downward in the country’s first family is thunderous silence. There was not even a whisper, leave alone a stout denial, at least for the sake of the people of India!

Sardar Patel was a lion; Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi and everybody downwards are chickens, ready to run for cover when crisis erupts and always ready to curry favour from the governments. Neither Manmohan Singh, nor Sonia Gandhi nor Rahul has any moral right to say that he/she inherits Sardar Patel’s legacy. The morally bankrupt present-day Congress led by Gandhis and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel are poles apart. And poles do not meet.

I could not conceal my laugh when Rahul Gandhi, the other day, said that BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had no right to speak about Sardar Patel. Let me remind this Prince of India that Modi’s mother—a former maid servant—continues to live in a lower-middle class house with her son whose name is not known to most of us but who is working as a Upper Division Clerk in Gujarat government. What we know is that this UDC—whose brother is the chief minister—does not meet his brother or the chief minister at all. The only time Modi meets his mother and his brother is when he goes home on his birthday to seek his mother’s blessings.

Where is Modi and where is Rahul? Where is that obscure UDC whose brother is CM and PM-in-Waiting and where is Robert Vadra? I am appalled by the arrogance and ignorance of Rahul Gandhi.

 By S A Hemantha Kumar

Quite a few months ago, The Economic Times had front-paged a detailed report on Vadra’s business empire. When Sushma Swaraj, the Opposition leader, was asked whether the issue would be raised in Parliament she said that members of political families would never be discussed in Parliament. The general belief was that the BJP avoided attacking son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi because the Congress would have retaliated by raising questions against Ranjan Bhattacharya, son-in-law of Atal Behari Vajpayye. There is an apt Hindi saying: Chor, chor mausere bhai.”

Cutting across all the contradictory arguments, one can say with certainty that Vadra was as a bachelor an anonymous figure from Moradabad but became national son-in-law after his marriage. Now with a shaky UPA and dwindling chances of the Dynasty returning to power, speculation is rife that Vadra could be in serious trouble when a new regime takes over. This is why as election moves towards closure and less than 20 days left when results come out, Congress is desperate to stop Narendra Modi from coming to power and instead any other coalition take over. In fact, greater danger to him is from Rajasthan where all-powerful and aggressive Vasundhra Raje Scindia, Chief Minister, could go for him any time.

In what could end up embarrassing the Congress party in the cut and thrust of an aggressive election campaign, the Bikaner district administration indicated those companies in which Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra has stakes, profited hugely from purchasing land at reduced prices and selling these at premium rates. When BJP MP from Bikaner Arjun Meghwal demanded a probe into the irregularities committed in the land deals, the Rajasthan government ordered a probe. District Magistrate Arti Dogra, in her report, mentioned five companies in which Vadra has stakes. These five companies bought 633 hectares of land. All transactions were conducted when Ashok Gehlot was chief minister. The five companies named in the report are Sky Light Realty, North India IT Park, Blue Breeze Trading, Real Earth Estates and Sky Light Hospitality. These companies bought 633 hectares of land in Bikaner and later sold 284 hectares, registering huge profits.

Meghwal alleged the actual land bought by these companies was much more, but authorities could not link it to Vadra’s companies. “We feel that the real purchase of land is much more than 633ha. All these purchases were made violating the land ceiling act. We will request state government to look deeper into transactions of companies where Robert Vadra is a stakeholder,” said Meghwal.

Vadra’s land deals came into controversy as he was the first to purchase plots in parched deserts of Bikaner. Soon, Gehlot government inked a deal with a private firm to set up a silicon plant and decided to develop the area as solar hub. The BJP MP alleged Vadra sold these lands to companies which wanted to set up solar plants in the area. The revelation of the probe is likely to heat up the political environment in the state. The BJP is all set to target Congress over the issue while one of the ministers in Gehlot government maintained that there was no wrongdoing in any land

BJP’s attack on Robert Vadra hurts DLF stock; it falls 12 per cent in three days. So “Save the jamai babu” has got entwined with the fate of the Congress and its allies. One does not think the Gandhis have much love for Robert Vadra, but they could fear him. He would be privy to all their secrets. Then he is a billionaire, and a tough nut, unlike Feroze Gandhi who never made money and cared two hoots about Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. He won’t go away easily. If he drowns he would take the Gandhis along with him.

See what he did with his own father Rajendra Vadra. Robert Vadra was estranged because his father had “expressed displeasure” with his marriage to Priyanka. Robert Vadra issued a public notice in 2001 stating that his father Rajendra and brother Richard, were “duping” people by promising jobs at the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee and other favours. Rajendra later threatened to file a defamation suit against his son. By then Robert had become a powerful son-in-law. No one dared go against him nor did they dare not to fulfil his wishes. Mystery surrounded the death of Rajendra Vadra. He was found dead at a guest house in Yusuf Sarai area of New Delhi in 2009. His elder brother Richard committed suicide in 2003 and Michelle, his sister, died in a car accident in 2001. While his family members died suddenly one after the other, Robert’s assets grew at the “Jupiter speed”.

His Facebook comment “Mango people in a banana republic” that was later deleted, had become widespread punch line for the news reporters and the public to talk about. In October 2012, his Facebook account was shut, days after a controversy broke out over his business deals with realty major DLF. Civil society activist Arvind Kejriwal had raised questions over the rise in his fortune. In his account on Twitter, Kejriwal tweeted, “Evidence pouring in from mango men from across the country. Mango men would prove to be nemesis for the powerful.”

There is no stopping of charges against him. Numerous reports have questioned veracity of balance-sheets of Vadra-owned companies, which claim to have received an overdraft of 7.94 crore from Corporation

Bank. Corporation Bank has now denied ever providing an overdraft facility to that amount. There are threats as well. “Will jail Robert Vadra if I get power,” Uma Bharati reiterates. This time, Robert Vadra may not be seen much in Gandhi bastions in UP. Modi brings Robert Vadra in the line of fire; he attacks Sonia, Rahul in Rohtak; Kejriwal hits out at Robert Vadra and Bhupinder Hooda.

There are other sons-in-laws who may not be as privileged, powerful or ambitious as Vadra is alleged to be. For, the others are married to daughters having lesser power. But these ambitious sons-in-laws have also been unscrupulously gaining financial as well as political benefits, not as a result of talent or hard work, but simply because of their association with a powerful family. Occasionally the jamai babus of public figures like Vadra become the cause celebre for the opposition to try stick the charge of corruption and favouritism and unlawful protection to the in-law for their jamai babus. Vadra became a household name, at least in urban areas because of new exposure of alleged shady deals in Haryana and the uproar in the recent session of Parliament. But the Congress Party defended him stoutly, after all he is sarkari jamai. As for Vadra, he remains undaunted, another hallmark of such sons-in-laws. They hear no evil, see no evil. He can be seen on his routine cycling, jogging and is surrounded by socialites the moment he steps in at any social function.

There are several other jamai babus or damaad sahibs who have done well through their influential in-laws. Sucharita Sengupta of the political science department at Jamia Millia University was quoted as saying, “The problem lies not with being a son-in-law, but with the stature and moral convictions of the individual. Gurunath Meiyappan, who earned infamy during exposures of IPL scandals, met his wife Rupa through their common love for the game of golf. They married in 2001. Grandson of the legendary AV Meiyappan (of the AVM film banner, one of the few large studios still running in Tamil Nadu), Meiyappan Jr had little interest in movies, go-karting and golf being more his passions. His IPL ties came after father-in-law, BCCI chief N Srinivasan, made him boss of his team Chennai Super Kings to avoid a conflict of interest issue. Meiyappan found himself in a spot for betting on matches (and possibly ‘fixing’ too), and was arrested and charged with gambling and cheating.”

Unfortunately, he’s not only the latest to join the problematic ‘damaad’ group that has plagued Indian politics and business of late. The jack-in-the-box, the odd ball, the outsider straining at the leash, the sons-in-law come with a lot of baggage.

Again, in early 2011, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh’s son-in-law Vikramaditya Singh was indicted by an American court after he was caught in a federal sting operation. The other son-in-law in privileged position is that of Sharad Pawar. He is married to Pawar’s daughter Supriya, MP. His business has grown tremendously. Another is Alhiban Bose, who still enjoys the protection of his father-in-law K. Karunanidhi although his marriage with Karunanidhi’daughter Kanimozi, MP, was over quite some time ago. The daughter of the late YS Rajashekharnan, who was chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, is married to Anil Kumar, who enjoys his relationship with the most powerful family in his state.

Why are jamais so favoured? Sociologist Dipankar Gupta was cited as saying, “Generally in Indian society, the son-in-law, who lives off his father-in-law’s name, is seen as a bit of a loser. Historically, there exists a bit of a kanyadaan complex in the Hindu tradition, where the bride-taker is superior to the bride-giver, so when this power equation is somewhat reversed, it is looked down upon.”

BJP national spokesperson Prakash Javadekar put it candidly, “Har damaad ki ek hi aas, Srinivasan jaisa sasur or Sonia Gandhi jaisi saas (It’s every son-in-law’s wish, a father-in-law like Srinivasan and a mother-in-law like Sonia Gandhi).”Adman and social commentator Santosh Desai added some more to the mix, “In India, sons-in-law enjoy a strange privilege. Once a son-in-law decides to use the affiliation and advantage that he’s got by marriage and taken advantage of the power structure, the wife’s family does not know how to deal with it. They cannot control him, and they have to respect him…because that’s what we do in the traditional family system. A son-in-law is a piece that doesn’t fit.”

But even with all this, the troublesome son-in-law remains a protected family member, always seeming to get away free. As a defiant Srinivasan remarked when his son-in law was arrested, “When Delhi’s son-in-law is safe (Robert Vadra), then why should I worry about my son-in-law.” Indeed, why should he?

The custom of kanyadaan or a materialistic polity, whatever be the reason, the tribe of protected jamais is growing. And it might become in time a separate backward caste, with a huge number of laws to protect them. So please note: Jamai Babu is a protected species. But with Modi in hot pursuit of Vadra, they could become an endangered group. Save jammai babus is no longer passé.

All this is due to Vadra. He might go down as a killer of his own kind apart from helping the Dynasty go into sunset.

By Vijay Dutt




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