It is a given that all good partymen will rush to the aid of the First Family when its honour is under attack. So when the pesky duo of Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan made bold to draw attention to the maze of business dealings between real estate giant DLF and Robert Vadra, the entire Congress came out to bat for Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law. From party functionaries to A-list Ministers, the defence mounted on behalf of Mr. Vadra was robust, though there is nothing on record to suggest the Congress chief herself solicited this support. Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid called the charges “preposterous and stupid,” even as he threatened to teach Messrs Kejriwal and Bhushan a lesson or two — “in the law”. Another minister wanted to know if Mr. Vadra’s family connections meant that he ought to be put out to starve. In rushing to form a protective cordon around the family, Congress leaders realised that if not demolished with the force of a sledgehammer the allegation of impropriety could cause incalculable long-term harm to 10, Janpath and, by extension, the party. And yet, for all the outrage of its shouting brigade, the Congress has not really managed to shed light on why DLF helped invest in Mr. Vadra’s businesses — relying on sound and fury to make its point when what was required was a clear and cogent explanation of why there was nothing wrong.
The Congress’s resort to obfuscation is at least understandable. But what explains the Bharatiya Janata Party’s refusal to grab an opportunity handed to it on a platter? BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad’s initial reaction was that the party will seek an independent probe into what he described as Mr. Vadra’s “wheeling-dealing.” But BJP president Nitin Gadkari quickly disabused Mr. Prasad of the fanciful notion, saying there was no real evidence in the case. Having himself been at the receiving end of allegations concerning an irrigation project in Maharashtra, the BJP chief obviously knows better than to throw stones from a glass house. Remarkably, Mr. Gadkari admitted to knowing that the Vadra papers had been in circulation. The principal Opposition’s biggest problem is that its own blotted record on corruption has left it with no face to fight the Congress on the issue. The BJP destabilised the previous session of Parliament over Coalgate only to find the scam attaching itself to some key party figures. The unfortunate truth is that a lot of the political noise on graft today is just that — noise. The Congress resolutely ignored the coincidental rise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s son-in-law Ranjan Bhattacharya during the National Democratic Alliance’s six years in office. Perhaps the favour is now being returned.