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PoliticsIndiaWhy MHA cancelled FCRA licence of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable...

Why MHA cancelled FCRA licence of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT), which are organisations associated with the Gandhi family, for alleged violations of the law. The action follows an investigation that an inter-ministerial committee conducted.

The MHA had formed this committee in 2020 after the BJP alleged that the RGF had received funds from the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. The committee started examining the funds received by RGF and RGCT. It investigated the money that these organisations received through what appeared to be a violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and the Act. A special director from Enforcement Directorate (ED), along with members from CIT, Income Tax Department; Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Urban Development and MHA constituted the committee.

The MHA had said back then, “MHA sets up inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into violation of various legal provisions of PMLA, Act, FCRA etc. by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust & Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. Spl. Dir of ED will head the committee”.

Ex-Indian National Congress (INC) president Sonia Gandhi heads both organisations, which have top leaders of the party, like Rahul Gandhi, as members. The RGF involves former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister as members as well.

On 25 June 2020, the BJP questioned a purported donation that RGF had received, with the ruling party president JP Nadda saying that the foundation took $ 3,00,000 from China through the Chinese embassy in 2005-06 to conduct studies that were not in the national interest.

Allegation by JP Nadda led to MHA probe

The allegation surfaced even as Rahul Gandhi questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in context of developments at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh. Referring to the alleged RGF scandal, Nadda said in 2020 that the INC had no moral right to talk about the country’s security after having taken money from China. “Today, I was shocked to watch on TV that in 2005-06 People’s Republic of China and the Chinese embassy gave a fat sum to RGF. This is a secret relationship between Congress and China. These people take funds from China and then conduct studies that are not in the interest of the country. These studies create the environment for that. The nation wants to know for what they were paid and what study they conducted,” he had said, addressing Madhya Pradesh Jan Samvad, a virtual rally.

Nadda responded to Rahul Gandhi's questions on the India-China conflict by saying, “All political parties had said, 'For the interest of the nation, we are with you Modi ji, you move ahead.' Only one family, and its intentions and policy, began raising questions…. today they are standing against China as if there is no sentinel like them. The mistakes of one family made us lose 43,000 sq km of land.” Nadda said, “You take $ 3,00,000 donation and teach us nationalism. हाथी के दांत दिखाने के और, खाने के और होते हैं।" (a proverb in for duplicity).

That very day, former Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The donors list of the RGF annual report in 2005-06 clearly shows that it received a donation from the Embassy of People’s Republic of China. We want to know why this donation was taken."

The two BJP leaders were referring to an account of donations made to RGF in 2005-06 and its annual report of the period when the RGF conducted a study on the free trade agreement between India and China and suggested it to be beneficial to India.

The RGF annual report for 2005-06 mentions the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China as one of the “partner organisations and donors”. China’s name figures in the list of donors for the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies (RGICS), a policy think tank promoted by RGF.

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