New Delhi: An inter-ministerial team has been set up by the government to coordinate probe into the alleged violation of various laws like money laundering and foreign contributions by three Nehru-Gandhi family linked trusts, including the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF).
The decision was taken nearly a fortnight after the BJP said that the RGF had received funds from the Chinese Embassy. The allegation came amidst the stand-off between the Indian Army and China's PLA in Ladakh. A Home Ministry spokesperson said a special director in the Enforcement Directorate will head the inter-ministerial team.
"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," a home ministry spokesperson said.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) deals with cases related to money laundering and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) deals with acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions. While launching an attack on the Congress party over the RGF having received funds from the Chinese Embassy a few years ago, Union Minister and BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had questioned whether it was a "bribe" for lobbying for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and China.
Prasad took on the opposition party after BJP President J P Nadda raised the issue in his virtual rally for party workers in Madhya Pradesh. On July 1, the government had cancelled the allotment of a bungalow to Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, saying she was not entitled to the facility following the withdrawal of her Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover.
Priyanka Gandhi, who is not an MP, was asked to vacate the bungalow by August 1. She was allotted the house in 1997. Last November, the government had withdrawn the SPG cover of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, and given them Z-plus security by the CRPF. The family was given the SPG security cover since 1991 after the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
The RGF was set up in 1991 with the aim to realise "the vision of the former prime minister of a modern India, secular, and progressive; a country that enshrines the democratic principle of equality and blends progress with rich cultural traditions".
The foundation is chaired by Sonia Gandhi. The other trustees include former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, former finance minister P Chidambaram, former deputy chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Suman Dubey, Ashok Ganguly and Sanjiv Goenka.
The Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) was established in 2002 to "address the development needs of the underprivileged of the country, especially the rural poor" and works in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The trustees of the RGCT are Sonia Gandhi (chairperson), Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Ganguly and Bansi Mehta. Its CEO is Deep Joshi.