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|January 20, 2002||
The Rediff Interview/Rajinder Vadra
Recently, in a public notice, son Robert, who is married to Priyanka, daughter of Congress president Sonia and the late Rajiv Gandhi, accused Vadra and Robert's elder brother Richard of promising people jobs and other favours in his name. In an interview with Shahid K Abbas, Rajinder Vadra denied the allegations and claimed to have opposed Robert's marriage from the very beginning, saying his son had become a pawn, even if not a 'ghar jamai', of the Gandhis.
Separated from his family for some years now, Vadra claims his relations with son Robert, daughter-in-law Priyanka and Sonia were "perfect". His daughter Michelle, a jewellery designer, died in a car accident last April. That event had reunited the family briefly.
Vadra, a Punjabi married to a Christian, runs a brass and wood handicrafts business in Moradabad. In his notice Robert Vadra said Rajinder and Richard Vadra were 'not authorised' to use his name nor had any access to him. The notice said the father and brother were using his relationship with Priyanka Gandhi to try and get people appointed to the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee and the Moradabad District Congress Committee.
Dismissing the allegations as a figment of Robert's imagination, Rajinder Vadra challenged his son to produce at least one witness in support. He claims he has no political affiliation and describes as rubbish the talk that the Congress was uncomfortable about the family's links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, especially with next month's crucial election in Uttar Pradesh. Excerpts from the interview:
In the public notice issued recently, your son has addressed you as 'one Rajinder Vadra' and his elder brother as 'one Richard Vadra' and accused you of duping people by 'promising jobs and other favours'. He has stated that you are not authorised to use his name nor have access to him. Stories are doing the rounds that you used the Gandhi connection to get people appointed to the UPCC and Moradabad DCC.
He is talking of disowning me, but I disowned him when he got married into the Gandhi family.
I had never wanted that my son should marry into a family that was accused of having put the security of the nation at stake. Besides, I was always opposed to this marriage because of the treatment they meted out to Maneka Gandhi. I had to eventually surrender to the wishes and persuasion of my wife and daughter.
It had occurred to me that Robert may change after his marriage in the Gandhi family but never -- even in my dreams -- had I thought he would go to court to finish a blood relationship between a father and son. And worse, that he would refer to me merely as a relative.
Moreover, all these allegations are a mere figment of his imagination. I challenge him to come out with at least one witness in support of his allegation.
Though Robert is playing to the tune of his in-laws, I am confident that he will never become a ghar jamai. I know for sure that he is bearing all the family expenses, including the rent for the Lodhi Estate government residence.
The only time after their wedding in 1998 that I went to Mrs Sonia Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence was over a dinner. I last met Robert on April 16, 2001, at the funeral of my daughter Michelle.
Are you now planning to disinherit him from the family property?
I don't have any intention to disinherit him, but definitely I will have to respond legally to that public notice. You see, everything was perfect until this notice. I have not yet received the notice, but the moment I receive it I will respond immediately through a lawyer. I am seeking legal opinion about filing a defamation suit. I would like to seek an explanation from Robert as to how and when I misused the name of Priyanka Gandhi or Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
In his notice Robert has accused his elder brother too of misusing his name.
I can't reply on Richard's behalf. You ask him that.
Is Robert under the influence of your wife with whom, I presume, your relations are not all that good?
Robert is very attached to his mother, and yes, on several occasions he spoke to me siding with his mother. But this is quite normal; sons normally take the mother's side. But I would not quite agree that this decision to issue a notice was in any way influenced by his mother.
There are allegations that the Vadra family has RSS links.
I have always been a Congress supporter. It is true my elder brother Om Prakash donated his property to a trust in Moradabad. Maybe there are a few members of the trust who owe allegiance to the RSS. He had donated his share of property to the trust after his sons died in an accident.
Do you nurture political ambitions?
I have no interest in politics, nor have I ever got any inkling of Robert harbouring such ambitions. If Priyanka is keen to join politics I have no objection nor have I ever opposed this even earlier.
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