In a move that will raise the political temperature, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has announced investigation into alleged violations of income tax and foreign donation rules against the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
The move came after the BJP led by its president J.P. Nadda raised several questions about the funding of the three trusts, especially by the Chinese embassy. An inter-ministerial committee has been constituted on behalf of the MHA, which will look into the funding of these foundations, and the alleged violations committed by them. This committee will be headed by the Special Director, Enforcement Directorate.
A spokesperson of the Union Home Ministry tweeted about this on Wednesday. The tweet read, “The Union Home Ministry has constituted an inter-ministerial committee, which will look into the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.”
This investigation will look into the violation of the rules of PMLA Act, Income Tax Act, FCRA Act. The committee will be headed by the Special Director of ED.
The issue came into the limelight during the ongoing tension between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on the Central government. The BJP hit back saying that the RGF had received funding from China.
Apart from this, the BJP alleged that the UPA government also gave money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund which was created for the country. The BJP alleged that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had received funds from the PMNRF till 2008 during the tenure of the UPA government. The BJP also alleged that the Foundation took huge sums of money from several corporates and in return, the government awarded several contracts. The BJP also said that in the UPA regime, pressure was allegedly put on SAIL, GAIL, SBI, etc., to give money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was started on 21 June 1991 in the name of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to fulfil his vision and dreams. According to the Foundation’s website, from 1991 to 2009, it worked in the areas of health, education, science and technology, women and child development, disability cooperation, assistance to the physically handicapped, Panchayati Raj, natural resource management, etc. In 2010, the foundation decided to focus on education.
Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Suman Dubey, Rahul Gandhi, Shekhar Raha, Prof M.S. Swaminathan, Ashok Ganguly, Sanjeev Goenka and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are also trustees of the foundation.
On the issue, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the RGF has nothing to fear as the government is just trying to bring down the Opposition. He said, “Please ask anything you want to, we are ready to answer. Not a single question is being asked to blue-eyed organisations like Vivekanand Foundation, India Foundation, RSS and Overseas Friends of BJP which received much higher quantum money.”
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi also tweeted, saying: “Mr Modi believes the world is like him. He thinks everyone has a price or can be intimidated. He will never understand that those who fight for the truth have no price and cannot be intimidated.”