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Probe into trusts: Does Modi plan to arrest Rahul?

July 08, 2020 15:55 IST

'Harassment' is the objective, not detention.

IMAGE: Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, the Congress MP from Wayanad.

The inter-ministerial committee announced by the government on Wednesday morning to coordinate the probe into the alleged violation of various laws like money laundering and foreign contributions by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, will hold its first meeting on Thursday morning.

The meeting, to be held at the MTNL building on Jawaharlal Nehru Marg near New Delhi's Ram Lila grounds, is likely to adopt a plan of action on how to probe the alleged flow OF Chinese funds to these trusts.

The government has appointed Vivek R Wadekar, special director, Enforcement Directorate (central region), as chairman of this inter-ministerial committee that includes six government agencies including the Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Excise, Income Tax, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, and the Union ministry of home affairs.

Although the news was broken by an innocuous tweet by the home ministry spokesman, it was by no means a routine decision.]

It was a major political decision taken at the highest level following internal discussions that were held so secretively over the past one month that even babudom could not get a whiff of what was being planned.

The provocation was the regular criticism of the government that flowed from Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka and others over the coronavirus pandemic and the Chinese incursions in Ladakh.

The charge of the Rajiv Gandhi Trust receiving Chinese funds was first made by Bharatiya Janata Party President Jagat Prakash Nadda.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad then asked if the funds allegedly received were a 'bribe' for facilitating a free trade deal between India and China. India, by the way, does not have such a trade agreement with China.

With the inter-ministerial committee expected to hit the ground running, officials of the three Nehru-Gandhi family-linked trusts will be summoned for questioning and official records will be seized.

"It is going to be a tough time for the office-bearers and employees of these trusts," says a government source.

The probe will completed within three months -- in other words, in time for the Bihar assembly election.

Asked if Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi will be questioned, the source said the final decision will rest with Vivek Wadekar.

However, there is no scope for detention or arrest of any of the trustees, said the source, "only harassment".