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 Congress 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 allegations against RGF were levelled by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief JP Nadda last month amid the ongoing war of words with the Opposition over the Ladakh face-off.
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 Congress 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? Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Totally reprehensible, disregarding ethics, processes and not bothering about transparency,” Nadda tweeted.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had alleged that RGF pushed for a free trade agreement between India and China, leading to a huge trade deficit skewed in favour of Beijing.
In its response, the Congress said the BJP was engaging in diversionary tactics, questioned it on visits and exchanges between the BJP and the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the past decade, and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a “strange bonhomie” with China even as the borders were insecure.
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.