The Ministry of Home Affairs said on Wednesday that it has set up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into alleged violations of the law by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, PTI reported. On June 26, the Bharatiya Janata Party had accused the Congress of having received funds from the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi for the foundation, and asked whether this was a bribe for a free trade agreement between India and China.
Officials of the home ministry said on Wednesday that the investigation will cover alleged violation of legal provisions of several laws, including the Income Tax Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, by the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust and the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. A special director of the Enforcement Directorate will conduct the investigation.
The BJP had alleged that donations to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation were made in 2005-’06, adding that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was the chairperson then. However, the Congress 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.
While addressing a virtual rally for party workers in Madhya Pradesh, Nadda asked why the foundation had received money from China. Nadda said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram were members of the board when the donation was made.
On June 28, the Congress 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. Congress 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 June 15, 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.
Singhvi said that while the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has made public its source of funds, the same may not be said for the BJP and its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The Congress wondered why RSS leaders went to China in January at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party, and what discussions were held on the Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh disputes.