Action against Rajiv Gandhi Foundation to divert public attention from main issues: Congress
The Congress on Sunday hit back at the Centre for action against the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT), saying the move is aimed at defaming the party and diverting public attention from the main issues being faced by the country.
The Congress' remarks come after the Central government cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of the RGF and the RGCT -- two NGOs headed by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi - for alleged violation of laws.
Congress general secretary, communications, Jairam Ramesh said the country's economy is in deep crisis caused by spiralling prices, rising unemployment and a falling rupee, and the people are clearly "fed up with the politics of hate and divisiveness".
"Over the Deepavali weekend, the Ministry of Home Affairs cancelled the FCRA registrations of both the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. They recycle old charges against the RGF and RGCT. This is to defame the party and divert public attention from issues of day-to-day concern to them," he said in a statement.
Congress leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also slammed the NDA government's move and said the cancellation of FCRA licences of the RGF and RGCT is a symbol of political malice of the Modi government.
The action against the RGF came following investigations carried out by an inter-ministerial committee formed by the Union Home Ministry in 2020.
"The FCRA licences of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust have been cancelled after investigations against these NGOs," an official of the home ministry said.
The investigators covered alleged manipulation of documents while filing income-tax returns, misuse of funds and money laundering while receiving funds from foreign countries, including China, officials said.
The probe team comprised officers from the ministries of home and finance, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), besides the ED, and was mandated to investigate if these trusts run by the Gandhi family and other Congress leaders allegedly manipulated any documents while filing tax returns or misused and laundered money received from foreign countries, they said.
The BJP welcomed the government's action and said the Gandhi family and organisations linked to them can't be above law.
Ramesh said the people of India are aware that the RGF was established in 1991 after the tragic assassination of Rajiv Gandhi who stood for the ideas of Sadbhavana, both among all Indians and with other nations, inclusive and sustainable development of India using science and technology and empowerment of women, the youth and local self-government at the panchayat, district and municipal levels.
He said the former prime minister also stood for relief to those affected by natural disasters and violence, and those with disabilities.
The RGF has been working since its inception to promote these ideas through programmes in various parts of India and lakhs of people, including children and women, have benefited from these programme, he said.
The Congress leader claimed that the RGCT works in Northern India with a focus on the poorest regions of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan through development initiatives. The trust was registered in 2002 as a professionally managed, not-for-profit institution to fulfil Rajiv Gandhi's vision of an inclusive India, he said.
Ramesh said the trust initiated a programme called Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana in 2002 to work towards the economic and social empowerment of women in UP.
The programme followed a group-based' social empowerment process and at its peak touched the lives of more than 20 lakh poor households in the state, he said.
"The Trusts have always been purely charitable in nature and comply with all laws and regulations. All statutory requirements of audit, programme activity and financial disclosure, and filing of returns have been scrupulously followed every year by the Trusts. The background for the cancellation of the FCRA registration should be obvious to anyone who understands the nature of the present dispensation," Ramesh said.
The Congress leader said the RGF and RGCT will, of course, be responding to the charges hurled at them and take whatever action it deems appropriate legally.
"Their (Trusts) activities are completely open and transparent. They have rendered yeoman public service," he said.
He also said the Congress will not be deterred from continuing with the Bharat Jodo Yatra that resumes on October 27 after a three-day break.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the RGF as well as the RGCT.
The trustees of the RGF are former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former finance minister P Chidambaram, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Suman Dubey and Ashok Ganguly.
The trustees of the RGCT are Rahul Gandhi, Ashok Ganguly, Bansi Mehta and Deep Joshi.