BJP attacks Congress over Robert Vadra's links with arms dealer
BJP and Congress locked horns over a Times Now report alleging that Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra had "links" with fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari. Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Congress must explain the link between Vadra and Bhandari; their silence would be misconstrued as accepting the charges. What did the report reveal? Know more!
What did the report reveal?
Times Now accessed emails which revealed that Bhandari booked business-class tickets worth Rs. 10L for Vadra in 2012 via International Travel Home. The email trail shows that tickets were booked to Zurich, Switzerland around the same time when Bhandari was being investigated for his role in arranging a jet trainer deal for Swiss company Pilatus, leading to suspicion of Vadra's involvement in that.
What else has been revealed?
I-T officials said this email trail was found while investigating Bhandari's connection in helping Vadra renovate a London property. In 2016, Bhandari had admitted that the email trail were messages exchanged between him, Vadra and Vadra's assistant Manoj Arora, finalizing interiors for his London flat. I-T team has now made requests to UAE, UK and Dubai for procuring financial and property details connected to the case.
What has the investigation revealed until now?
I-T department has been investigating allegations against Bhandari since he was raided in 2016. However, officials revealed that in the ticket booking probe, they reached a dead-end after approaching the booking agency. The agency said the tickets were cash payments, so they had no indication about the money's source. Bhandari, when questioned, had repeatedly said that he "didn't recall" any transactions with Vadra.
What is the BJP saying?
Sitharaman alleged that about 7.5L Swiss franc were deposited in Bhandari's bank account and questioned whether this had anything to do with Bhandari-Vadra connection. She said there were three financial transactions between them with "serious financial implications" and as Rahul Gandhi tweets frequently, why has he not made any reference to this matter. BJP also questioned why they were not filing any defamation case.
What is the Congress' viewpoint?
Though Sonia and Rahul have not spoken about this, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the BJP was doing this to distract everyone from Amit Shah's son Jay's case. He claimed that the "vicious witch-hunt" against Vadra has continued since Modi came to power. Though Centre, Haryana and Rajasthan have BJP governments, they have not proven any wrongdoing allegations against Vadra.
What does this imply for the Congress?
These allegations surface when a Congress versus BJP showdown is awaited in Gujarat. Vadra is already facing corruption allegations over land deals in Haryana, when the Congress was in power there. Bhandari's links with Vadra, if established, might cost Congress as this is the second time that the family would be embroiled in a controversy over a defense deal after Bofors.