Almost a year-and-a-half after receiving a complaint questioning Rahul Gandhi’s Indian citizenship, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has sent a notice to the Congress president and asked him to “intimate the factual position on this matter” within a fortnight.
The complaint was sent by BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy in September 2017, but the MHA took no action on it all these months.
Sources said Swamy recently sent another communication to the ministry, reminding it of his complaint. Following this, the MHA sent Rahul the notice on Monday.
The Congress on Tuesday released what it called the “original certificate of incorporation” of the company quoted in the MHA notice, and argued it clearly shows that Rahul Gandhi is an Indian.
Rahul had earlier told Parliament’s ethics committee that he had never “sought or acquired British citizenship”, and that his “identity is that of an Indian”.
On Tuesday, campaigning in Amethi, Rahul’s Lok Sabha constituency, Priyanka said, “I have never heard such rubbish. All (the people) know Rahul Gandhi was born (and) raised here. The entire Hindustan knows that Rahul Gandhi is a Hindustani…he was born before them…he was brought up before them…he grew up before them…. What rubbish is this?”
Earlier, the Supreme Court and the Election Commission had rejected petitions questioning Rahul’s Indian citizenship,
In November 2015, the apex court had dismissed a public interest litigation by former CBI officer and lawyer M L Sharma, seeking a CBI probe into the issue. A bench comprising then Chief Justice of India H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy had questioned “authenticity of the document” attached with the PIL, and the manner in which the papers were procured.
“Can we start making roving inquiries,” the bench asked while turning down the petition as “frivolous”.
More recently, on April 20, an Independent candidate from Amethi filed a similar complaint with the returning officer. On April 22, the returning officer rejected the assertions made by the candidate.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was in Lucknow on Tuesday, tried to play down the MHA notice. “Whenever an MP sends a complaint to any ministry, necessary action is taken. It is not a big development, it is a normal process,” he said.
Asked about the timing, Singh said, “This question was raised in Parliament as well. An MP (Subramanian Swamy) has written to the ministry several times as well, following which the action has been taken.”
Referring to Swamy’s letter, the MHA said it had been brought to its notice that a company named Backops Ltd was registered in the United Kingdom in 2003, with Rahul Gandhi as one of its directors. According to the MHA’s notice, Swamy’s complaint mentioned that in the company’s annual returns filed on October 10, 2005, and October 31, 2006, Rahul’s date of birth was given as June 19, 1970, and his nationality was declared as British.
The notice stated, “In the dissolution application dated February 17, 2009, of the above referred company, your nationality has been mentioned as British. You are requested to intimate the factual position in the matter to this ministry within a fortnight of the receipt of this communication.”
Swamy, who has in the past claimed that Rahul Gandhi is an Italian, had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asserting Rahul’s British citizenship. Swamy had also demanded that the Congress leader be stripped of his membership in Parliament.
In 2016, Swamy filed the same complaint with Parliament, and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan forwarded it to the Parliamentary ethics committee, headed by veteran BJP leader L K Advani. In his reply, Rahul had said he had never “sought or acquired British citizenship”. He also questioned the committee’s decision to look into a “complaint that is not in order”, and called it an “endeavour to malign” him.
No decision has been taken by the House panel on the matter yet.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Prime Minister has “lost the plot” and is desperately manufacturing “one false allegation a day” to divert attention from the government’s “failure” on all fronts. Surjewala said the Congress will give a “befitting reply to fake accusations of the MHA being used to divert the agenda”.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told the media that there are questions on Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship and asserted that “if you create a confusion, you have to clarify”. He said these questions are based on “authentic” documents.
Patra said: “Rahul Gandhi is a synonym of confusion, and he has become a man of mysteries. We would like to ask him which one is real: Rahul Gandhi London-wale or Rahul Gandhi Lutyens’-wale?”