Lok Sabha Election 2019

Smriti Irani accuses Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra of corruption

Union Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Union Minister Smriti Irani in New Delhi on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: PTI

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Congress says ‘Modi’s favourites are making baseless charges’.

The BJP and the Congress got into a war of words over the former’s attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his sister, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, over alleged corruption involving land deals and accusations that the Gandhi siblings had helped “institutionalise graft”.

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani cited media reports to allege that Ms. Vadra’s spouse, Robert Vadra, was “merely a mask” and that it was Mr. Gandhi who was the “real face” of corruption.

She said Mr. Gandhi and Ms. Vadra purchased land in a deal involving H.L. Pahwa, whose properties were searched by the Enforcement Directorate, and Mahesh Kumar Nagar, who had a role in land transaction involving Mr. Vadra.

Mr. Pahwa, she said, was lent money by C.C. Thampi who was “friends” with controversial arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

The BJP leader said Mr. Gandhi’s opposition to a defence deal, an apparent reference to the Rafale transaction, was due to his “financial and family” interests as he wanted a rival company to bag the contract.

‘Fear of defeat’

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala dismissed the allegations, putting it down to the BJP’s “imminent fear of defeat” in the election. “Facing imminent defeat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his favourites are resorting to levelling completely baseless and fake allegations,” he said.

The entire set of allegations, Mr. Surjewala said, were a figment of Mr. Modi’s imagination to divert people’s attention.

Giving details, he said that on March 3, 2008, Mr. Gandhi had purchased 6.4 acres of land in Palwal, Haryana for ₹26.47 lakh spending ₹4.1 lakh per acre. The prevailing collector rate in the area then was ₹1.5 lakh an acre. In 2012, he gifted this land to Ms. Vadra after paying due stamp duty on the registered gift deed. And Ms. Vadra in August 2014, gifted the land to Vipassana Sadhana Sansthan, a not-for-profit spiritual organisation.

“Purchase of land was done by Mr. Gandhi out of his own funds paid from his bank account. At no point of time, this purchase of a small piece of land and consequent gift to a spiritual organisation has any connection with any individual, whatsoever,” Mr. Surjewala said.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 6:36:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/smriti-irani-accuses-rahul-gandhi-priyanka-gandhi-vadra-of-corruption/article26525093.ece

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