Rahul Gandhi’s nationality issue back in focus

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 22, 2018


Rahul Gandhi

Subramanian Swamy says returns filed by Rahul’s firm shows his nationality as British, seeks annulment of election

The BJP is uncertain of raising the issue of Rahul Gandhi’s nationality which senior party leader Subramanian Swamy has questioned in two separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.

A Union Minister told  BusinessLine on Wednesday that the “issue has not been discussed” and indicated that the biggest priority for the government was to “conduct legislative business in both the Houses”.

While the Congress has dismissed Swamy’s accusations as “mindless mudslinging” by the BJP’s “dirty tricks department” what has come out so far is that in two separate income returns filed by the Congress Vice-President’s start-up BPO venture, Backops Services Private Ltd, his nationality is shown as “British”. Based on the documents, Swamy has demanded that Gandhi’s election be annulled and that the Amethi Lok Sabha seat be declared vacant.

Gandhi has never denied that he set up the BPO venture which, in different statements just after his first election in 2004, he described as a call centre-like operation providing engineering detail and structural planning services to large overseas civil engineering firms. In his election affidavit in 2004, Gandhi submitted under the head “Other Assets Such As Values of Claims/Interests” that he is the “Prop. of Backops Ltd, Europe”. He gave details of his different account numbers connected to the firm’s operations as “Accounts Nos HSBC-UK, A/C No 58332832 with a balance of $18,600, HSBC UK Account 61761927 with a balance of £2,700 and E Trade Security Account No 47940239 with a balance of $600”. The company is not mentioned in Gandhi’s subsequent election affidavits in 2009 and 2014. The firm was dissolved in 2009.

What emerges from the documents of the company filed with the Registrar of Companies of UK is that the company was incorporated in Cardiff on August 21, 2003, by two directors — Rahul Gandhi and Ulrik McKnight. In the certificate of incorporation on August 21, 2003, Gandhi declared himself as an Indian national.

But in the company’s annual returns filed in October 2004, Gandhi is first described as a British national but then the description “British” generated through a computer in the nationality column is struck off by hand and noted as “Indian”.

However, in the subsequent annual returns filed electronically in October, 2005, Gandhi’s nationality is “British” generated electronically in the form. The same is repeated in the annual returns filed in October 2006 where Gandhi’s nationality is again “British” in the electronically generated form. It is not corrected by hand as was done in the first returns form in 2004.

Subsequently, a spokesman of the UK government department Companies House has indicated in different statements to the media that this could well be an error as the annual returns were filed electronically.

The firm was set up in 2003, before Gandhi became an MP. Swamy, however, argued in his first letter to the PM that “No member of Indian Parliament can incorporate a company abroad without prior permission under the existing laws and without declaring the same in his nomination form as candidate for election to Parliament.”

But in his second letter which he wrote to the Lok Sabha Speaker, Swamy stated at the onset “taking the Congress party statement and my documents together, what emerges is that Mr Rahul Gandhi in 2003, when he was not a Member of Parliament, had incorporated a private limited company in Britain as a 65 per cent shareholder as well as the designated Company Secretary”. He nevertheless argued that Gandhi’s conduct amounted to a “serious violation of the law and the Constitution”.

Published on November 18, 2015

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