Wednesday, January 15, 2014

IFS Devyani Khobragade’s father may join political bandwagon; may face tough questions on controversial past

The Indictment of Devyani Khobragade
INDIAN newspapers today printed a photograph of diplomat Devyani Khobragade offering her respect at Chaitya Bhoomi, a memorial of Dalit icon BR Ambedkar, in her home town of Mumbai where she had landed on Tuesday. As the 1999 batch IFS officer reached the airport, she was greeted by a crowd, mostly the members of the Republican Party of India which has its roots in Scheduled Castes Federation led by Ambedkar. Devyani is unlikely to quit the elite IFS to join the political bandwagon, at least for now, but her father…
Uttam Khobragade, a retired-IAS officer and the one who has been at the forefront of getting Devyani back to India from the US where she was indicted for visa fraud and underpaying her domestic help, may contest the 2014 general election from a Mumbai constituency.
It’s not clear though which party Khobragade would eventually join. In his social media tag, Khobragade calls himself “committed to secularism, democratic values and serving the dalits and poor of India”.
Dalit czarina and BSP supremo Ms Mayawati in a Parliamentary debate last month criticised the government saying that New Delhi did not take up the Devyani case immediately because the diplomat belongs to a weaker section of the society. There was no taker of that twist though, as India took up anti-US pressure tactics which were unprecedented both in size and scale.
As a bureaucrat, Khobragade Senior was in good books of former Maharashtra chief minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde, the latter being the current Union home minister. But he may not be wooed by the Congress because of his alleged connection with the Adarsh housing scam, something that has already put many a Congress bigwig in a tight spot. 
A judicial panel probing into Adarsh housing scam said last month that Devyani Khobragade was ineligible to get a flat in the controversial society as she already possessed another flat when she had applied. Khobragade Senior who was at the helm of the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada) for a long period, clarifies that Devyani’s flat at Adarsh, was not procured under any quota (or favour) but bought on a direct sale by paying the full amount.
In a television interview aired recently, Khobragade Senior disclosed that he was in talks with the political parties for a while. "I could fight 2014 elections," he added.
But it may not be a cakewalk for Devyani’s father to become a parliamentarian. The same media which was kind to him and Devyani during their fight against the US highhandedness, may turn hostile once Mr Khobragade becomes a nominee of a political party and fight elections. Already, newspapers have been listing huge real estates that Khobragade family possesses, indirectly alleging corruption and wrongdoings. IAS Khobragade's tenures in Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) and Food and Drugs Department have some controversial past.
With the Indo-US diplomatic row witnessing a happy ending for New Delhi, and Khobragade Senior making his political ambitions amply clear, the family is likely to face tougher questions in the days to come.

1 comment:

  1. Let Mr Khobragade come clean on the wealth his family has amassed first. Then there are allegations of having a flat at Adarsh society and there is another allegation of bending IFS rules to favor his daughter.