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Home ministry sets up panel to probe organisations linked to Gandhis

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, seen here with sister Priyanka Gandhi, is on the board of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)Premium
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, seen here with sister Priyanka Gandhi, is on the board of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. (Ramesh Pathania/Mint)

  • The home ministry tweeted that the committee will look into alleged violations of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the I-T Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act
  • The move is likely to worsen the political war of words between the Union government and the Congress party

NEW DELHI: In what is likely to be a new political flashpoint, the Union home ministry said on Wednesday that an inter-ministerial panel has been set up to co-ordinate the probe into alleged funding violations by three organisations associated with the Gandhi family. The move is set to fuel tensions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union government and the main opposition Congress party.

The home ministry said in a tweet that the committee will look into alleged violations of various legal provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), the Income Tax Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) the by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. “Special director of Enforcement Directorate will head the committee," the ministry said.

Responding to the move, Congress party said the union government was practising a politics of vengeance but added that trusts like RGF have showed necessary documents in the past and would continue to do so.

"We are here as law abiding persons to answer. Each opposition segment, individual and institutional, is being harassed. Country exposes you each time you ask such questions of RGF, and RGF answers you with truck load of audited tax papers and continues with sterling social work without being cowed down," Abhishek Singhvi, national spokesperson and senior Congress leader said in a virtual press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The move is likely to worsen the political war of words between the Union government and the Congress party as the committee will take on investigations directly associated with organisations named after the Gandhi family.

The donation pattern of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) has been under political spotlight for nearly a fortnight now. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Jagat Prakash Nadda had alleged on 25 June in a virtual rally that RGF accepted a donation of $300,000 from China during 2005-06.

The allegations had led to an intense verbal spat as the Congress party responded by saying that such allegations were ‘diversionary tactics’ from the border clash with China and attacked the Union government for being silent over a number of issues related to the incident.

Set up in 1991, RGF seeks to promote education while RGCT, a not-for-profit organisation set up in 2002, seeks to address the development needs of the underprivileged. The Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust also seeks to promote education. Congress party president Sonia Gandhi chairs both RGF and RGCT while former party president Rahul Gandhi is on the board of both the organisations.

Trusts are highly regulated entities and the government has been tightening rules over the years to ensure that these entities that receive tax benefits utilise their funds for their stated objectives.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gireesh Chandra Prasad

Gireesh has over 22 years of experience in business journalism covering diverse aspects of the economy, including finance, taxation, energy, aviation, corporate and bankruptcy laws, accounting and auditing.
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