Priyanka Gandhi Vadra In Probe Agency Chargesheet Over Purchase, Sale Of Land

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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra In Probe Agency Chargesheet Over Purchase, Sale Of Land

There is speculation Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi could contest the 2024 Lok Sabha election (File).

New Delhi:

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been named in an Enforcement Directorate chargesheet – for the first time – over the alleged purchase and sale of five acres of land in Haryana. Her husband, businessman Robert Vadra, is also named but neither of them have been listed as “accused”.

The chargesheet was filed against CC Thampi, an NRI businessman, and Sumit Chadha, a British national of Indian origin. The ED believes they helped fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari – who is accused of violating the Official Secrets Act, among other laws – hide the proceeds of his crimes.

The agency – often accused of acting against opposition leaders on orders from the centre – has referred to Ms Gandhi Vadra’s transactions with HL Pahwa, a Delhi-based real estate agent who sold her agricultural land in Faridabad in 2006 and, four years later, re-purchased the same tract.

In addition, ED sources told NDTV, a house was allegedly purchased in Ms Gandhi Vadra’s name, in Faridabad’s Amipur village, in April 2006 and sold back to Mr Pahwa at the same time as the land.

Mr Pahwa is the same agent from whom Mr Vadra allegedly bought 40.8 acres of land in Amipur between 2005 and 2006, and sold it all back to him in December 2010.

A similar deal was executed with Mr Thampi, who was arrested in January 2020. According to the ED, he bought 486 acres in the same village – from HL Pahwa – between 2005 and 2008

The ED had named Mr Vadra – who the agency claims has a “long and thick relationship”, and “… common and similar business interests…”, with Mr Thampi – in earlier chargesheets.

Political Reactions

Ms Gandhi Vadra has not reacted so far, but Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu told reporters “names of several leaders are attached with ED right before Lok Sabha elections”.

The Aam Aadmi Party, a member of the Congress-led INDIA opposition bloc, hit out at the ED for “continuously taking action against opposition leaders”. AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar said, “The law is ‘guilty until proven innocent’ for opposition and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ for the country…”

Congress’ Big Changes Before 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was at the centre of a major organisational reshuffle in the Congress last week; she was replaced, by Avinash Pandey, as the General Secretary in-Charge of Uttar Pradesh, a politically significant state as the party preps for the Lok Sabha election due in less than four months.

READ | Priyanka Gandhi Out In Congress’ Major Reshuffle Ahead Of Polls

Ms Gandhi Vadra remains the Congress’ General Secretary but “without any assigned portfolio”, fuelling speculation she will finally make her electoral debut.

READ | Nitish Kumar, Priyanka Gandhi’s Names Proposed For This Big Challenge

Earlier this month sources told NDTV Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is on a (very) short list of political heavyweights – the others are Nitish Kumar and Arvind Kejriwal – who may be fielded against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in UP’s Varanasi, seen as a particularly impregnable BJP stronghold.

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