New Delhi | Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s soninlaw Robert Vadra today found himself at the centre of a controversy over his spat with a reporter asking questions about his land deals with the party coming out in his defence and BJP attacking him for inappropriate behaviour. The Congress, which in the past said Vadra was a private citizen, defended him, saying repeated hounding of an individual is not appropriate and advised the media to avoid unpleasantness of shooting questions at private functions, like what happened to him.
Indian Constitution and our established ethos guarantee Right of Privacy, personal space and liberty to all individuals, more so, when a person is neither in public life nor holds any public office. It is clear that entire episode is being propagated as a political agenda for obvious reasons which cannot be considered either fair or proper, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said. He said repetitive hounding of an individual on an issue that has been conclusively rejected both by a Constitutional body like Election Commission of India as also High Courts and finally the Supreme Court of India is not appropriate.
Congress also reminded BJP of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s shoddy treatment of two journalists whey they questioned him on Gujarat riots when he was the state’s chief minister. I want to remind leaders of BJP and friends of the media as to how none less than the current Prime Minister (the then Chief Minister) Narendra Modi had removed the mike and walked out of a prefixed interview with leading journalist Karan Thapar who questioned him about Gujarat riots, he said.
Vadra yesterday lost his cool and pushed aside the microphone of a reporter at a fivestar hotel gym when he was quizzed about his controversial land deals in Haryana. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said it was Vadra’s sheer frustration that caused this inappropriate behaviour. Vadra was the one who had called India a Banana Republic and we Indians as mango people but it is time that we make him realise that India is no more a Banana Republic which was ruled by the first family of the Congress, Patra said.
Rubbishing the Congress’ defence of Vadra, BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said he is not a private citizen, a term Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh used to shield him and chide media for paying so much attention on a nonevent. Vadra is not a private person. If he had been a private person then he would not have got the privileges in Haryana, neither he would have got privileges at airports, Hussain said. Why (is) a private citizen being unnecessarily hounded?, Singh tweeted.
If he has violated any law, prosecute him. If (he) has ill gotten wealth confiscate it, but this unnecessary media attention is not justified, he posted in another tweet. Asking the media not to target him, he said, We politicians are feeling jealous of the media attention which Vadra is getting. We are the real punching bags for you.
Spare him! Singh claimed there was an agreement between the journalist and Vadra that questions would be asked only about health and gym facilities and accused the reporter of breaching it. A livid Vadra was seen on a video footage shown on TV channels asking the reporter four times as to whether he was serious about his land deal question. However, senior BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain countered Singh saying that had Vadra been a private person he would not have got privileges.
Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit appeared critical of such behaviour and said basic civility should be maintained while dealing with the media. He, however, added that he was not speaking as a party spokesperson. I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar said his ministry will act if it receives a complaint and stressed that media should be allowed to do its work.
Commenting on the incident, CPI leader D Raja said it was an unacceptable conduct and that it should be seen how the I&B ministry will take up the issue.