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The unending doubt on Rahul Gandhi's citizenship

One name pops up repeatedly on the citizenship question: Subramanian Swamy

By The Telegraph in New Delhi
  • Published 9.05.19, 5:30 PM
  • Updated 9.05.19, 5:30 PM
  • 2 mins read
Congress president Rahul Gandhi at a rally in Purulia on May 7. PTI

Doubts over Congress president Rahul Gandhi's Indian citizenship have surfaced and sunk several times before and, as one Congress leader remarked today, may resurface again. As predictably, the name of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy also pops up in this context.

Like the petition over his citizenship that was thrown out today, the Supreme Court in November 2015 had dismissed a petition making similar allegations about Rahul's citizenship.

In 2016, the parliamentary ethics committee, headed by BJP veteran L.K. Advani, had looked into party leader Subramanian Swamy’s complaint and Rahul had replied that he had never “sought or acquired British citizenship” and that his “identity is that of an Indian”. The committee did not proceed with the matter since 2016.

This time, too, Swamy was the man behind the home ministry's notice to Rahul to clarify his citizenship.

When the initial allegations were levelled several years ago, the Congress had made public the certificate of incorporation of Backops, which shows Rahul’s nationality as Indian. The BackOps' entry Swamy referred to this time appears to be one made by mistake while filing annual tax returns.

Te petition was filed in the Supreme Court days after the home ministry wrote to Rahul, asing him to clarify on his citizenship.

Hearing the plea today, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “Some company in some form has mentioned Rahul Gandhi as a British citizen, so does he become a British citizen? Dismissed.”

The petition was filed by Jai Bhagwan Goyal, who is affiliated to the Hindu Mahasabha.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi called the charge an attempt to “spread disinformation” by a “Bohot Jhoot Party”. He mentioned how the allegations have come to an “inglorious end” but believed it would keep cropping up.

“When a party revives a citizenship issue bang in the middle of April-May elections, after five years in power, with not a shred of legal or factual finding against Mr. Rahul Gandhi, we know that you are only proving your frustration,” Singhvi said.

About the long history of such allegations against Rahul, Singhvi said: “Remember today it was a proxy. Some years ago it was their own Rajya Sabha member who brought a complaint.”

He was referring to Swamy. In 2011, Swamy, then the Janata Party president, had said there was a legal bar on Rahul and sister Priyanka from becoming Prime Minister because they were Italian citizens.

A lot of speculation also swirled around the name Rahul Vinci. The Telegraph published a report from London in 2014 that explained that Rahul took the pseudonym while at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1994-95 because of security reasons following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991.

In the news conference, Singhvi also reminded of a how the BJP’s own “former cherished ideal” chaired a committee. In 2016, L.K. Advani had chaired a parliamentary ethics committee constituted also on a complaint of Swamy, to inquire about a non-citizen becoming a parliamentarian. Rahul Gandhi had then replied that he never “sought or acquired British citizenship” and that his “identity is that of an Indian”.