Sanjay Bhandari, a defence dealer, is being investigated for allegedly buying a benami or proxy-owned house for Robert Vadra in London, and Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju’s top aide Appa Rao, exchanged 355 phone calls over the last one year, according to documents collected in raids last month on Bhandari.
Appa Rao, who is officer on special duty or OSD to the minister, denied that Bhandari had made hundreds of calls to him; they were so few that he could not recall an exact number, Rao said.
The aide also said that Bhandari visited the minister at his office “three or four times” and that Raju met Bhandari as the latter was in the business of procuring aircraft parts. The minister, who is from the Telugu Desam Party, an ally of the BJP, first met Bhandari about one and half years ago at an air show in Bangalore, Rao said.
Yesterday, BJP leader Sidharth Nath Singh said that while it is correct that the arms dealer and he have been in close touch, their ties are personal and not professional. “It’s a social relationship and friendship, certainly not a business relationship. Since the Congress has asked for an investigation into this, I must say that I have absolutely no issues with it. Please go ahead and carry out an investigation… I have nothing to hide,” Singh said.