New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) The question of Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship had cropped up earlier and he had defended himself forcefully when the matter had come before the Ethics Committee of Parliament.
This was in 2016, when the matter had come before the parliamentary panel, which is headed by BJP leader L.K. Advani. Rahul Gandhi, who was not Congress president then, had, reportedly told the panel that he was surprised that it had taken cognizance of the complaint pertaining to his alleged British citizenship even though it was not in order. He had also said that any such application would be available with the British Home Office. According to the reports he had asserted that he had never sought or acquired British citizenship and that the complaint was part of a design to malign him.
While doubts over Gandhi’s alleged dual citizenship had been raised by BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy, the Congress leader had at the time challenged the complainant to produce his British passport number and relevant documents to back his allegations. For the record, the matter had also been raised by the BJP’s Maheish Girri.
The BJP leaders had claimed that the annual tax returns of the UK-based BackOps, with which Rahul Gandhi had been associated, had declared him as a British national – the Congress leader later explained this away as an “inadvertent error” and a typographical error.
Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, a member of the ethics committee told IANS that no meeting of the parliamentary panel has been held in the last two years. “I don’t think any meeting of the committee has been held in the last two years.”
Prior to this, Swamy had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that the Congress leader be stripped of his citizenship. He had said in the letter that Gandhi had declared himself as a British citizen for the period 2003 to 2009 in connection with efforts to float a private company in London. “The name of the company is BACKOPS Limited and the Director and Secretary of this company was Mr Rahul Gandhi, presently Lok Sabha MP,” the letter had said.
Among the documents attached was the UK-based company’s annual tax returns. Swamy had pointed out in the letter to the Prime Minister: “As you can see from the company’s annual return that Rahul Gandhi has given his date of birth correctly but has declared himself to be of British nationality with a United Kingdom address.”
In December 2015, the Supreme Court had dismissed the evidence submitted in connection with the citizenship. The plea had been submitted by lawyer M.L. Sharma with the documents pertaining to the incorporation of a firm and the Supreme Court had dismissed the plea as frivolous. It had also, at the time, questioned the authenticity of the document.
“How do we know whether these documents are authentic? Can we start making roving inquiries now?” the bench had said. Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, who was hearing the matter, told Sharma, who insisted on a hearing: “I have two more days in office, don’t force me to impose exemplary costs on you.”
Like then, so now, the Congress party has stood by Rahul Gandhi and rubbished the allegations. Among them has been his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the party’s General Secretary for East Uttar Pradesh.