The Union home ministry has set up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into allegations against Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust of violating the legal provisions of money laundering act, Income Tax Act and foreign contribution act.
Confirming it, a home ministry spokesperson said that Special Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will head the committee. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will also be part of the committee.
While former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and INC leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and P Chidambaram are trustees of RGF, which was set up in June 1991. Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of RGF and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. She has also been overseeing the work of Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
The BJP had alleged that donations to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation were made in 2005-’06, adding that INC chief Sonia Gandhi was the chairperson then. However, the INC dismissed the charges and said it was an attempt to divert the attention of the country from matters of national security.
In a tweet, BJP National President JP Nadda had released documents that he claimed revealed how money from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund was diverted and donated to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation during Manmohan Singh’s tenure as the prime minister.
On 28 June, the INC hit back at the government, alleging that Chinese companies had contributed to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations, or PM-CARES, Fund. INC leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi wondered why Modi had accepted funds from these Chinese firms, amid tensions between the two countries.
Indian and Chinese troops engaged in a violent clash in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control on 15 June, leading to the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers and injuries to 76. The Chinese also lost an unidentified number of soldiers. Tensions skyrocketed between the two countries following the incident, and India banned 59 Chinese-linked apps citing security reasons.
In a series of tweets, Nadda said that the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) donated money to RGF. He said “one family’s hunger for wealth” hurt the nation, and also accused the INC of committing a “brazen fraud” by diverting public money into a “family-run foundation”.
Nadda also posted images of lists of donors to RGF for the years 2007-2008 and 2005-2006 to back his claim. The list included several state-owned companies, including the State Bank of India and GAIL, and ministries including the ministry of home affairs and the ministry of health.
“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? Sonia Gandhi. Totally reprehensible, disregarding ethics, processes and not bothering about transparency,” Nadda tweeted.
PMNRF was set up in 1948 by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, entirely with public contributions. It does not get any budgetary support. PMNRF resources are utilised primarily to give relief to families of those killed in natural calamities, and to victims of major accidents and riots, according to its website.