Home ministry cancels FCRA licence of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust

The Ministry of Home Affairs has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT), organisations associated with the Gandhi family, for alleged violations of the law.

The action came after investigations carried out by an inter-ministerial committee, which was formed in 2020 by the MHA after the BJP alleged that RGF received funds from the embassy of the People’s Republic of China. The committed had started probing the funding of the RGF and the RGCT and they investigated funds received by these organisations with respect to a suspected violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), and the Income Tax Act.

The committee was headed by a special director from Enforcement Directorate (ED), along with the members from CIT, Income Tax Department; Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Urban Development and MHA.

In a statement, the MHA said in 2020, “MHA sets up inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into violation of various legal provisions of PMLA, Income Tax Act, FCRA etc. by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust & Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. Spl. Dir of ED will head the committee”.

The development assumes significance as both the organisations are headed by former Congress president Sonia Gandhi and have top leaders of the Congress, including Rahul Gandhi, as members. The RGF even has former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P Chidambaram as members.

On June 25, 2020, the ruling BJP targeted the Congress by questioning a purported donation that RGF had received, with BJP president J P Nadda saying that the foundation took $300,000 from the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese embassy in 2005-06 to carry out studies that were not in the national interest. The allegations came in the backdrop of Rahul Gandhi questioning PM Narendra Modi’s leadership in context of developments at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

On the RGF, Nadda said in 2020 that the Congress 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.

Referring to the Congress raising questions over the government’s handling of the Galwan Valley standoff, Nadda had said, “All political parties 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.”

He added, “You take $300,000 donation and teach us nationalism. Haathi ke daant dikhaneke aur khane ke alag hote hain.”

On the same day, in a press briefing, former telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, echoed this: “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 carried out 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 the RGF.

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