MHA sends notice over citizenship row

Congress dismissed a notice sent to 48-year-old Gandhi, who has studied and worked in England, by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday as a "pathetic stunt that is not just frivolous but downright stupid". AFP File photo

The government has asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to respond to a September 2017 complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy claiming that he had declared himself as a British national while incorporating a company in the United Kingdom.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notice dated April 29 came in the midst of campaigning with the Congress dismissing it as a diversionary tactic in the middle of a bitterly fought Lok Sabha elections.

The MHA letter said that it has received a complaint from Swamy, a bitter critic of the Congress and Gandhi family, claiming that Rahul registered a company, Backops Ltd, in 2003 and he was one of the directors of the firm.

“It has been further brought out in the complaint that in the company’s annual returns filed on 10 October 2005 and 31 October 2006, your date of birth has been given as 19 June 1970 and that you had declared your nationality as British,” the letter by MHA Director (Citizenship) B C Joshi said. It said the dissolution application on February 17, 2009 also showed his nationality 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,” it said.

Responding to the allegations, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “The Prime Minister has no answer for unemployment, agrarian distress, black money, that’s why he is resorting to fake narrative through his government’s notices to divert attention.”

The entire world was aware that Rahul Gandhi was an Indian citizen by birth, he said. A similar case filed in the Supreme Court in 2015 was dismissed as frivolous, Congress leaders said.

Rahul had earlier dismissed the allegations levelled by Swamy saying the BJP MP was misleading the country. Rahul had also asked Swamy to substantiate his claims with documentary proof.

An independent candidate in Amethi, from where Rahul is contesting, had also urged the Election Commission not to accept Rahul’s nomination claiming that he had declared himself as British national during the incorporation of a company registered in the UK. However, the Returning Officer rejected the contentions and accepted Rahul’s nomination.

This is not the first complaint filed by Swamy against Rahul on the issue. He had complained to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who referred the matter to the Ethics Committee.

However, the Ethics Committee did not proceed on the issue and Swamy approached the MHA in September 2017.

In November 2015, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea seeking a CBI probe into the issue, after questioning the “authenticity of the document” attached with the PIL and the manner in which the papers were procured.

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