Allegations of Haryana govt-DLF link need answers
Even when the allegations were restricted to the business dealings of Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty major DLF, they were serious enough—after all, it did seem odd that DLF should have given Vadra’s firm an interest-free advance for more than two years even if for a property transaction. But it was true, as government officials said, that this was a matter between two private citizens and there was no evidence of quid pro quo. By now extending the allegations to favourable treatment of DLF by the Haryana government, the issue has got a lot more serious and needs a response, certainly by the Haryana government. Arvind Kejriwal has alleged the government went out of its way to favour DLF by allowing DLF to use for its SEZ a parcel of land that was reserved for a hospital—Vadra, it is alleged, briefly held shares in DLF SEZ Holdings Pvt Ltd—and a Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment striking down the government decision on the SEZ has been attached by Kejriwal. The judgment talks of a “nexus between the government and … DLF” and how “the state and its officers are tilted in showering favors on the DLF.”
It would, of course, be foolhardy to just take Kejriwal’s allegations at face value. As this newspaper argued yesterday (http://goo.gl/crFPh), Kejriwal’s actions in exhorting people not to pay their electricity bills, and to reconnect disconnected meters is patently illegal. And while Kejriwal is quick to highlight the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (DERC) report which talked of R3,577 crore of surplus funds with electricity suppliers in Delhi in FY10, he has nothing to say about the DERC report (under a new chief) that said there was a R3,299 crore shortfall, much less offer proof the report’s facts were doctored. Similarly, while Kejriwal says the Haryana government introduced new technical norms at the time of bid evaluation to eliminate DLF rivals in another case, the papers given by Kejriwal on Tuesday say the rivals were eliminated for also not meeting the net worth criterion—in other words, it does look as if we’re getting just one part of the story.
But the allegations, even if one-sided, need a detailed response from the government. Indeed, though this is not something Kejriwal has alleged, in the Competition Commission case where a R630-crore fine was levied on DLF, the flat-owners had alleged DLF had built far more than was legally allowed—the Haryana government had never responded to these charges. Similarly, when Canadian research firm Veritas had said DLF’s accounting standards were aggressive and helped inflate sales by R11,236 crore between FY07 and FY11 and pre-tax profits by R7,233 crore over the same period, the corporate affairs ministry and even the capital markets regulator chose to do nothing. Such silence, needless to say, is only helping further fuel the allegations.