Government Panel To Handle Investigations Against 3 Gandhi Family Trusts

Gandhi family trusts: The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was set up in June 1991 and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in 2002; both are headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi

Gandhi family trusts: The Home Ministry has formed an inter-ministerial committee

Highlights

  • Home Ministry has formed an inter-ministerial committee
  • Investigations will focus on of income tax and foreign donation rules
  • Congress says all accounts are audited and has denied any wrongdoing
New Delhi:

Three trusts linked to the Gandhi family will be investigated for alleged financial wrongdoings, the government said today. The Home Ministry has formed an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into alleged violation of income tax and foreign donation rules by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, the ministry's spokesperson tweeted.

The investigations will focus on the alleged violation of laws like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Income Tax Act, Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act by the Gandhi family-run trusts, said a home ministry tweet. The special director of the Enforcement Directorate will head the committee, the tweet said.

The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation was set up in June 1991 and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in 2002; both are headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the wife of the former Prime Minister who was assassinated in 1991.

The Congress called the investigation "political vendetta" along with recent moves to cancel Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's government bungalow and the ongoing National Herald case in which Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are being investigated over allegations that they misused party funds for personal profit.

"The Indian National Congress and its leadership will not be intimidated by the cowardly acts and blind witch-hunt by a panicked Modi Government. The wild and insidious hatred of the BJP of Congress leadership unfolds every day in an embarrassing and uglier fashion... Our determination to hold the Government accountable to the people of India and to speak for the deprived, the underprivileged and the downtrodden will only get strengthened by these desperate actions of a Government too petrified to answer its own people," the Congress said.

The ruling BJP said the investigation was "a natural outcome" of information brought out in the public domain and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is committed to transparency.

Last month, the BJP accused the Congress of "brazen fraud" linked to the trusts, alleging that when it was in power, the Manmohan Singh government donated money from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

"PMNRF, meant to help people in distress, was donating money to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in UPA years. Who sat on the PMNRF board? Smt. Sonia Gandhi Who chairs RGF? Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Totally reprehensible, disregarding ethics, processes and not bothering about transparency," BJP president JP Nadda had said.

The ruling party also alleged that the foundation had received funds from the Chinese Embassy in 2005, as a counter to daily attacks from the Congress and Rahul Gandhi on the June 15 border clash with China. "Did the then UPA government take a bribe from the Chinese? Is it not true that after taking this donation, the foundation recommended a free trade agreement with China, which was heavily tilted in favour of the Chinese," Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad questioned.

The BJP also alleged that in his Budget speech in 1991 as Finance Minister, Manmohan Singh had allocated Rs 100 crore to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

Besides Sonia Gandhi, the board of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation includes Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, P Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh.

The Congress has rubbished the allegations, calling them an attempt at diverting focus from the government's handling of the China crisis.