The Congress on Sunday came down heavily on the central government for cancelling the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licences of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT), alleging that the move was aimed at defaming the party and diverting public attention from the main issues being faced by the country.

The Centre cancelled the FCRA licences of the RGF and the RGCT – two NGOs headed by Congress leader Sonia Gandhi – for alleged violation of laws.

Jairam Ramesh, Congress general secretary, communications, said India’s economy is in deep crisis caused by spiralling prices, rising unemployment and a falling rupee, and the people are clearly “fed up with the politics of hate and divisiveness”.

“Over the Deepavali weekend, the Ministry of Home Affairs cancelled the FCRA registrations of both the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. They recycle old charges against the RGF and RGCT. This is to defame the party and divert public attention from issues of day-to-day concern to them,” Ramesh said in a statement.

Ramesh added that the people of the country were aware that the RGF was established in 1991 after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi who stood for the ideas of Sadbhavana, both among all Indians and with other nations, inclusive and sustainable development of India using science and technology and empowerment of women, the youth and local self-government at the panchayat, district and municipal levels.

He said the former prime minister also stood for relief to those affected by natural disasters and violence, and those with disabilities.

The RGF has been working since its inception to promote these ideas through programmes in various parts of India and lakhs of people, including children and women, have benefited from these programmes, he said.

The Congress leader claimed that the RGCT works in Northern India with a focus on the poorest regions of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan through development initiatives. The trust was registered in 2002 as a professionally managed, not-for-profit institution to fulfil Rajiv Gandhi’s vision of an inclusive India, he said.

“The Trusts have always been purely charitable in nature and comply with all laws and regulations. All statutory requirements of audit, programme activity and financial disclosure, and filing of returns have been scrupulously followed every year by the Trusts. The background for the cancellation of the FCRA registration should be obvious to anyone who understands the nature of the present dispensation,” Ramesh said.

The Congress leader said the RGF and RGCT will, of course, be responding to the charges hurled at them and take whatever action it deems appropriate legally.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot also targeted the government’s move and said the cancellation of FCRA licences of the RGF and RGCT is a “symbol of political malice” of the Narendra Modi government.

The Centre’s decision, a person aware of the matter said, has been taken based on investigations carried out by an inter-ministerial committee formed by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in July 2020.

The foundation came under the scanner in July 2020, when the MHA set up an inter-ministerial committee headed by an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer to investigate three Gandhi family foundations — Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF), Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust — for possible violations of the money laundering act, Income Tax act and FCRA.

The committee comprised officers from the Union home and finance ministries as well as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and was mandated to investigate if these trusts run by the Gandhi family and other Congress leaders manipulated any documents while filing income tax or misused and laundered money received from foreign countries.

RGGT, also headed by Sonia Gandhi, is also registered under FCRA but it is not known if any violation has been found against it. The MHA did not comment on a query sent by HT on Saturday.

(With inputs from PTI)

By Shadab

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