Ever since Haryana IAS officer Ashok Khemka’s 100-page submission to the State government raising serious questions about the Robert Vadra-DLF land deal and other issues was reported in The Hindu on August 10, he has been closely questioned on the contents of his note by television channels. That is only to be expected, as Mr. Khemka has attacked none other than a member of the nation’s top ruling family.
But as the media dissect the details of the officer’s note, and scrutinise his every statement for inconsistencies, the irony of directing these questions at him instead of Robert Vadra himself is inescapable. Every media head knows that the man who has been described by the Congress party as a ‘private citizen’ will not subject himself to such an inquisition. It is easier to ask Mr. Khemka to provide ‘proof’ to support his assertions, which many mistakenly assume to be the conclusions of a definitive investigation. The complete silence from the other end is just one of the many significant elements that have been glossed over in this entire episode.
Khemka’s findings are only the result of a preliminary enquiry conducted by him with the help of very limited material that was available to him. His abrupt transfer on October 11, 2013 after he asked the deputy commissioners of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Mewat to scrutinise Mr. Vadra’s property transactions in those areas, ensured that he would have no access to the relevant information.
Later, the three-member committee tasked by the Haryana government to look into the deal gave Mr. Vadra a clean chit and indicted Khemka without giving him an opportunity to present his case.
Further, when he asked for documents relating to the sale and licensing of the land sold by Mr. Vadra’s M/s Skylight Hospitality to DLF Universal, to reply to his indictment, the departments of Town and Country Planning, Commerce and Industries, and Revenue not only refused to provide him the material but some also responded offensively.
So, what Khemka has presented before the government are his limited findings based on publicly available documents, which need to be opened up for larger investigation by an impartial agency. The urgency for such an impartial investigation, which could prove or disprove Mr. Khemka’s allegations, seems to have been lost in the din that has followed his disclosures. The focus, instead, is on putting him under the lens and getting him to accept that his assertions on the land deal are based on “inference” and not “fact”.
Similarly, the larger issue of a flourishing black market trade in licenses that Mr. Khemka’s note on the Vadra-DLF deal exposes, has been brushed aside. Perhaps the officer overreached himself in exposing these questionable practices. It is also possible that he misinterpreted as illegal some aspects of the deal that could be passed off as an “impropriety” or “ethical misconduct”, as is being speculated by some news anchors. Let a probe establish that. Either way, his contribution in turning the spotlight on such rampant malpractices by homing in on a member of the nation’s top political family, who clearly made windfall gains on the strength of his proximity to the ruling dispensation, is undeniable.
The one question that he raised and which no one is addressing is: If the worth of Vadra’s land went up by Rs.40 crore in just 65 days only because he got a commercial colony licence during this period, shouldn’t this money (earned by scores of other brokers in a similar manner) accrue to the government instead by way of licensing fee? Are not most such licences actually favours distributed to political cronies when everyone knows that the real developer is a real estate biggie and not these smaller companies who are cornering the licences and acting as brokers?
So as the media inquisition of Khemka grabs eyeballs, eclipsing some of the more critical issues that he has raised, it begs the question: is the media inadvertently being just as unfair to him as the Haryana government has been?
It is also ironical that the Khemka bombshell that has hit the UPA government in its last days is largely the making of its own Congress government in Haryana. If it was not for the sustained and systematic gagging and humiliation of this officer in the last few months, his reply might have been milder. The joke inHaryana’s ruling circles is that by taking away important departments from Mr. Khemka, the government gave him ample free time to craft his sledgehammer reply on which he worked undisturbed for three months.
The zeal with which he attempted to clear his name over the indictment by the government probe panel quite obviously stemmed from the sheer injustice of having two officers sitting in judgement over his actions under whose watch some of the controversial permissions were given. It rankled, as did the sudden cold shoulder from friends and colleagues in the government who did not want to be seen with him after his fall from favour.
In the last one year he has been transferred four times and is now the Director-General State Archives with very little work to do. As Director-General Social Justice and Empowerment Mr. Khemka won the SKOCH Financial Inclusion award for his Atate in 2012 for transferring Rs. 550 crore of social security benefits to two million bank accounts, that saved the State exchequer Rs.75 crore. Keeping valuable manpower like him without work is a luxury the Haryana government can ill afford, both politically and administratively.
Sir William “Mark” Tully, OBE, Padma Shree, KBE, Padma Bhushan, one of the most respected journalists in the world, writes on Indian Politics:
I was surprised when the Congress party gave me a Padma Shri. I am the only foreign journalist to ever get it. For, in my forty years of political reporting in India, I have always been a vocal critic of the Nehru dynasty. Someone even called me recently: a vitriolic British journalist, who in his old age chose to live back in the land he never approved.
It started with Operation Blue Star. I was one of the few western correspondents who criticized Indira. As I have said since then numerous times, the attack on the Golden Temple and the atrocities that followed the army operations, produced in all sections of the Sikhs a sense of outrage that is hard today to alleviate. I believed then that the large majority of Hindu India, even if politically hostile to Indira Gandhi, openly identified with and exulted in her will to overwhelmingly humble a recalcitrant minority.
As everybody knows, Indira Gandhi helped my fame grow even more, by wanting to imprison me during the Emergency she clamped and finally throwing me out of India for a short while. But the result was that the whole of India tuned in, then and thereafter, to my radios broadcasts, The Voice of India, to hear what they thought was accurate coverage of events.
When Rajiv Gandhi came to power, I first believed that he was sincerely trying to change the political system, but he quickly gave-up when the old guard would not budge. I criticized him for his foolish adventure in Sri Lanka, although I felt sorry for him when he was blown to pieces by Dhanu, the Tamil Tiger. It is in Kashmir, though that I fought most viciously against his Govt and subsequent Congress ones for its human right abuses on the Kashmiri Muslims of the Valley. The Congress Governments tried indeed several times to censor me and the army even took prisoner my Kashmiri stringer, whom I had to rescue by the skin of his teeth. I am also proud that I was the first one to point out then, that the Indian Government had at that time no proof of the Pakistani involvement in the freedom movement in Kashmir. Thus I always made it a point to start my broadcasts by proclaiming that « the Indian Government accuses Pakistan of fostering terrorism», or that elections are being held in Indian-controlled Kashmir:
As I was so popular, all the other foreign journalists used the same parlance to cover Kashmir and they always spoke of the plight of the Muslims, never of the 400.000 Hindus, who after all were chased out of their ancestral land by sheer terror (I also kept mum about it.
As for Sonia Gandhi, I did not mind her, when she was Rajiv Gandhis wife, but after his death, I watched with dismay as she started stamping her authority on the Congress, which made me say in a series of broadcasts on the Nehru Dynasty: Its sad that the Indian National Congress should be completely dependent on one family; the total surrender of a national party to one person is deplorable. You have to ask the question: what claims does Sonia Gandhi have to justify her candidature for prime-ministership? Running a country is far more complicated than running a company. Apprenticeship is required in any profession more so in politics. I heard that Sonia Gandhi was unhappy about this broadcast.
Then, after President APJ Abdul Kalam called her to the Raj Bhavan and told her what some of us already knew, namely that for a long time, she had kept both her Italian and Indian passports, which disqualified her to become the Prime Minister of India, she nevertheless became the Supreme leader of India behind the scenes. It is then that I exclaimed: the moribund and leaderless Congress party has latched onto Sonia Gandhi, who is Italian by birth and Roman Catholic by baptism.
She never forgave me for that. Yet, today I can say without the shadow of a doubt that when history will be written, the period over which she presided, both over the Congress and India, will be seen as an era of darkness, of immense corruption and of a democracy verging towards autocracy, if not disguised dictatorship, in the hands of a single person, a non Indian and a Christian like me. Truth will also come out about her being the main recipient for kickbacks from Bofors to 2G, which she uses to buy votes, as the Wikileaks have just shown.
Finally, I am sometimes flabbergasted at the fact that Indians Hindus, sorry, as most of this countrys intelligentsia is Hindu seem to love me so much, considering the fact that in my heydays, I considerably ran down the 850 million Hindus of this country, one billion worldwide. I have repented today: I do profoundly believe that India needs to be able to say with pride, Yes, our civilization has a Hindu base to it.
The genius of Hinduism, the very reason it has survived so long, is that it does not stand up and fight. It changes and adapts and modernizes and absorbsthat is the scientific and proper way of going about it. I believe that Hinduism may actually prove to be the religion of this millennium, because it can adapt itself to change.
Hindus are still slaves to Muslims and Christians.
On the name of secularism, lots of facilities and cash incentives are given to Muslims and Christians. Haj subsidy is given to Muslims for Haj yatra, wages of Muslim teachers and Imams are given to Muslims are given by looting the Hindu temples.
No such subsidy is given to Hindus for going to Hindu religious places or any wages to Hindu religious priests or Hindu teachers. In fact congress secular government creates many obstacles for Hindus for going to Amarnath Yatra. Even after 65 years of independence reservation is given on religious grounds while it should have been abolished by this time. If at all reservation or subsidy is needed, then it should be purely on economic grounds rather on the grounds of minorities. Such reservations affect the quality of work.
Congress party giving various kinds of allurements to minorities to buy their votes with Hindu money. In the government many people are with Hindu names but in fact many are Muslims and Christians with Hindu names to fools Hindus and to show in the government, majority people are Hindus.