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House ethics panel seeks reply from Rahul Gandhi on citizenship row

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding that Rahul Gandhi be stripped of his Indian citizenship.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: March 15, 2016 1:48:54 am
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The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee has sent a notice to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi seeking his reply to allegations that he held British citizenship.

In response to questions from reporters at Parliament House, Rahul said, “We will deal with it.”

In a statement, AICC media in-charge Randeep Surjewala said, “Shri Rahul Gandhi has since his birth been an Indian citizen. He has never applied for or acquired the citizenship of any other country. Shri Gandhi will reply to the notice of complaint of ethical misconduct in conformity with Parliamentary procedure and we shall not comment upon it in the media.”

He described the repeated questions raised outside Parliament by BJP leaders about Rahul’s citizenship as “political vendetta”. “The facts in this matter can easily be verified by the government of the day. This campaign of the BJP leadership is mala fide and defamatory,” Surjewala said.

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Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said, “A person who is born in India and whose grandmother and father have been Prime Ministers of India — can that person be a citizen of some other country?”

Arjun Ram Meghwal, BJP chief whip and a member of the Ethics Committee, meanwhile said, “The Ethics Committee has issued a show-cause notice asking him (Rahul) how he showed his citizenship as British when he was in London and became a director (of a company).”

However, a member of the Ethics Committee, aligned with neither the BJP nor the Congress, told The Indian Express that the notice was “a part of the routine procedure followed by the panel”. He said the committee secretariat sent a notice to the person concerned on receiving any complaint forwarded by the Speaker. He said even though veteran BJP leader L K Advani happened to be the chairman of the committee, it was unlikely that he had any specific role in the notice. “The main purpose for sending the notice is to elicit the response of the person concerned in the light of a complaint against him,” the member said. Another member of the committee said there had been no meeting of the panel in the recent past, nor had there been any informal consultations among the 15 members of the body.

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had forwarded the communication she had received from BJP member from East Delhi Maheish Girri seeking an “appropriate inquiry” into allegations of former Union minister Subramanian Swamy that Rahul had declared himself a British citizen for setting up a firm in the UK.

Girri had maintained that it was necessary that people know the truth. Swamy had also written to the Speaker in this regard.

Rahul had accused the Prime Minister of indulging in mud slinging through his “cronies” and had dared the government to probe the allegations against him and send him to jail if he is found guilty. The Congress had maintained that the mention of the citizenship in Rahul’s annual returns was a “typographical error” on the part of the firm’s accountant, responsible for filing the returns.

Mahajan had said that whenever a member sends a complaint to the Speaker, it is referred to the committee as per the rules.

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