SONIA CLOSES DOOR ON VADRAS
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New Delhi, Jan. 7 : New Delhi, Jan. 7: Sonia Gandhi has asked the Congress brass not to have anything to do with the Vadras, the family that daughter Priyanka has married into. The directive to Congress chief ministers, state unit bosses and senior leaders came shortly after Sonia's son-in-law, Robert, issued a public notice snapping ties with his family. Robert has charged his brother, Richard, and father Rajinder Vadra with nursing political ambitions. 10 Janpath sources said Sonia took the drastic step after receiving complaints that the Vadras had been using their Gandhi connection to make money. They have allegedly been promising people anything from election tickets and jobs to flats and admission into schools in return for money. Party leaders said there were numerous instances of the Vadras having approached VIPs and chief ministers, one of whom recently went to Sonia for advice. 'Last week, we were told to be careful with them. We knew something was amiss,' a CWC member said. Sonia is believed to have told Robert that such allegations brought disrepute to the party and lowered the prestige of the family. Such 'unbecoming conduct' would also give her political adversaries a tool to malign her during the campaign for the Assembly elections, she said. Family sources said Sonia initially had reservations about Priyanka marrying into the Vadra family but gave in after Priyanka put her foot down. But she grew to like Robert and even inducted him on her campaign team for the 1999 elections. Family friends say she now treats Robert like her son. 'After grandson Rehan's arrival, they became a nice loving family. Sonia did not want any complication in her cordial relations with her son-in-law,' a friend said. Robert is reported to have had heated arguments with his father and brother and charged them with nursing political ambitions. He legally snapped ties with them with the help of advocate Arun Bhardwaj, son of former law minister Hansraj Bhardwaj. Robert and the Gandhi family have declined comment on the issue, but close family friends said the decision was a painful one. 'The whole world knows that Sonia is a reticent person and intensely dislikes anyone misusing the family name. It was not that the Vadras were not warned. But there were just too many instances, forcing Robert to take a drastic step,' a family friend said. He added that when Salman Khursheed was the Uttar Pradesh chief, Richard had called him up and recommended the names of party officials from Moradabad. Recently, a Vadra family member also approached a prominent educational society chairman with a visiting card that said '... in-law of Priyanka Gandhi'. Today, the Congress president's office issued a letter to PCC chiefs, CLP leaders and Congress chief ministers advising them not to entertain the Vadras. A public notice from Robert's advocate was enclosed with the letter. The public notice read: 'It has been brought to the notice of my client that some persons, including Rajinder Vadra, resident of C-7, Amar Colony and Richard Vadra, resident of Basant Vihar colony, Civil Lines, Moradabad, UP are misrepresenting to the public that they are working for on behalf of my client and allegedly promising jobs and other favours in return for money. 'Even though Rajinder Vadra and Richard Vadra are relatives of my client but they have no access to my client. Public at large is hereby put to notice that my client has not authorised Rajinder Vadra and Richard Vadra and anybody else to work for him or to use his name in any manner and make such misrepresentation to anybody. Such misrepresentations are without the knowledge and consent of my client.'