The Congress on Wednesday accused the government of carrying out a "blind witch hunt" against the opposition party and applying "double standards" in instituting a probe into the funding of its trusts including the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, saying such questions are not asked of some "holy cows" close to the government.
Daring the government to deploy its machinery in investigating the financial sources of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the trusts have nothing to fear and will answer every question like law-abiding persons.
Referring to the RSS, Vivekananda Foundation, India Foundation and Overseas Friends of BJP as "blue-eyed, sanctified holy cows" which are protected by the government, the Congress leader said such entities are not asked questions about the 9th Schedule exemptions that the Gandhi-family run trusts are asked.
"The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has nothing to add or fear because you have all the 'yantras and tantras' and you can ask every question at every inquiry. We are here as law-abiding persons to answer. But, you need to be exposed fully, in that you don't ever ask these questions of many holy cows," he said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Congress and its leadership will "not be intimidated by the cowardly acts and blind witch-hunt by a panicked Modi government".
"The wild and insidious hatred of the BJP of Congress leadership unfolds every day in an embarrassing and uglier fashion," he said in a statement.
"Every day, a new conspiracy is crafted by the delusional BJP leadership so as to spread disinformation, distraction and diversion to bury the apparent incompetence and complete failure of the Modi Government," he said.
Accusing the Centre of "harassing" the opposition, Singhvi said the government can ask them as many questions as it wants, but sought to know if entities close to the government will be asked the same set of questions.
"You are harassing each opposition segment, individual or institutional, and if you were not to do it, people would believe this is not your 'chal, chehra and pehchan'. But, the beauty is that these lovely questions like 9th schedule exemptions, like blue-eyed sanctified holy cows, don't get asked from Vivekananda Foundation, India Foundation or Overseas Friends of BJP and the RSS," he alleged.
Singhvi said the country will expose the government each time questions are asked about the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which will provide "truckloads of audited papers" about its finances.
He said the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation will continue with its "sterling work" without being bogged down by the "pressures" of the government.
Surjewala said a desperate Modi-Shah government has fallen back on a "devious hounding of those exposing its ineptitude by ordering a wholly vicious and vengeful investigation" of the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.
He said the humanitarian work and distinguished service provided by these charitable organisations has always stood out and will withstand any "vengeful and roving enquiry".
Surjewala said the Congress's determination to hold the government accountable to people of India and to speak for the deprived, the underprivileged and the downtrodden will only get strengthened by these "desperate actions of a government too petrified to answer its own people".
An inter-ministerial team has been set up by the government to coordinate a probe into the alleged violation of various laws like money laundering and foreign contributions by three Nehru-Gandhi family linked trusts, including the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF)
The decision was taken on Wednesday, nearly a fortnight after the BJP said the RGF had received funds from the Chinese Embassy. The allegation came amidst the stand-off between the Indian Army and China's PLA in Ladakh.
A Home Ministry spokesperson said a special director in the Enforcement Directorate will head the inter-ministerial team.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs has set up an inter-ministerial committee to coordinate investigations into violation of various legal provisions of PMLA, Income Tax Act, FCRA etc., by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. Special Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will head the committee," a home ministry spokesperson said.
The Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) deals with cases related to money laundering and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) deals with acceptance and utilisation of foreign contributions.