|Estate of mind|
|Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:00|
Do the children or relatives of influential people have the right to pursue a career or run a business, or not? A question that has dogged successive governments, and on all sides of the political spectrum over the years, it is increasingly being asked in the context of a news report in a financial daily that UPA chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra has a tie-up with India’s leading real estate firm DLF—he owns a share in one of its hotels and has even got unsecured loans from the firm. Vadra pooh-poohs the obvious innuendo and told the newspaper the DLF owners were friends of long standing—in any case, he said, if he were misusing his position as Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and taking favours, he’d be doing much bigger things.
While there can be little doubt that family members like Vadra have a legitimate right to run their lives, and Vadra is not the first son or son-in-law who has business dealings with firms the government is in a position to oblige, there is equally no doubt the standards of probity applied to such relatives have to be of a higher standard than those applied to others. Caesar’s wife, as the Prime Minister is fond of saying, has to be above even suspicion. Which is why we welcome Vadra’s statement when he says, he has served a legal notice on realty firm BPTP Ltd for claiming that several of its projects were part-owned by Vadra. For the government and the Congress party, however, the problem is more serious. Given how many clearances a real estate firm needs from government, for land-usage to be changed, for FSI levels and a lot more, there will always be fingers pointed if the UPA chief’s son-in-law has business dealings with a firm getting these permissions. The onus is now on the government and the Congress party to show that the clearances it is giving are not under any form of influence. For DLF, there are the obvious questions on corporate governance that arise, how was the company doing business if it was giving out unsecured loans, a charge incidentally also made against some of the firms that are being investigated in the current 2G scam.