The government on Wednesday set up an inter-ministerial panel to probe alleged violations of laws relating to money laundering, income tax and foreign contributions by three trusts, including the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, linked to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
The Congress termed the move a “blind witch-hunt” and said it would not be intimidated while the ruling BJP said the decision is a “natural” outcome of information in the public domain.
The three trusts to be investigated are the RGF, the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. While the first two trusts are headed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, it is not immediately known who chairs the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
A Home Ministry spokesperson said a special director from the Enforcement Directorate will head the committee, which is also likely to comprise officials from the CBI, Income Tax department and Home Ministry. The decision to constitute the committee was taken about a fortnight after the BJP said the RGF had received funds from the Chinese Embassy. The allegation came amid the stand-off between the Indian Army and China’s PLA in Ladakh.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs has set up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into violation of various legal provisions of PMLA, Income Tax Act, FCRA etc, by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. Special Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will head the committee,” the Home Ministry said.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act deals with cases related to money laundering and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) deals with acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions. The Home Ministry has not yet disclosed the terms of reference of the committee. Reacting to the move, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said those who fight for the truth have no price and cannot be intimidated.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the party and its leadership will “not be intimidated by the cowardly acts and blind witch-hunt by a panicked Modi government.” His colleague Abhishek Manu Singhvi added that there is nothing to fear and every question will be answered.
“The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has nothing to add or fear because you have all the ‘yantras and tantras’ and you can ask every question at every inquiry,” he said.