In a massive election controversy, serious questions regarding Congress President Rahul Gandhi's citizenship, name and educational qualifications have been raised.
An independent candidate and a resident in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi, Dhruv Lal, has raised objections on the nomination papers of the Congress chief. Just three days ahead of another phase of voting which will also include the Wayanad contest being taken to the poll booth, the allegations against Rahul Gandhi include questions being raised over his real name, citizenship and his educational qualifications.
In the objections raised, in an 11 page complaint, Lal has made scathing allegations against the Congress President which include "Falsity about the Educational Qualifications", "False Declaration as to Identity", "False declaration as to Nationality", "Concealment of Information regarding Ownership of Property situated in the United Kingdom" and "Concealment of Information regarding Profits earned".
In a sensational charge, Lal has alleged that Rahul Gandhi had declared his nationality as "British" in the Memorandum of Association and Annual Return for the period ending 21st August 2005 of a British company, namely Backops Limited, where he allegedly served as a Director.
As per Lal, "The Candidate (Rahul Gandhi) has admitted in his Election Affidavit dated 03.04.2004 that he held shares in the Company named, Backops Limited, Britain. Memorandum of Association and Annual Returnfor the period ending 21.08.2005 of the said Company record Candidate’s nationality as "British" and his address is in United Kingdom."
In an attempt to lend credence to his claim, Lal claims to have annexed a copy of the Memorandum of Association of Backops Limited as well as a copy of the Annual Return filed by the British company to his complaint Quoting from the Citizenship Act of India 1955, Lal makes the point that "when (a) Candidate (has) acquired citizenship of the United Kingdom, he has ceased to be an Indian Citizen".
Deepening the mystery, should the allegations be true, Lal claims that Rahul Gandhi's degrees from the University of Cambridge and Rollins College were issued under the name of "Raul Vinci" and not "Rahul Gandhi".
"On perusal of the certificate annexed as Annexure A-5, it is discovered that Rollins College, Florida in the year 1994 has issued degree of Bachelor of Arts and University of Cambridge (Trinity College) in the year 2004-05 has issued degree of M. Phil in Development Studies to the candidate describes him as “Raul Vinci” and not “Rahul Gandhi”," as per Lal.
Lal also alleged that, "as such, no person in the name of “Rahul Gandhi” has obtained the above-mentioned educational qualifications from the above-mentioned colleges and university and the affidavit is false or the name of the candidate is "Raul Vinci" and not "Rahul Gandhi". In either of the cases the nomination requires to be rejected. Thus, declaration made by the Candidate in his present Election Affidavit dated 10.04.2019 are false and misleading".
While alleging that Rahul Gandhi had falsified his educational qualifications, Lal claimed that there was a discrepancy between his 2004, 2009, 2014 and 2019 general election affidavits.
As per Lal, Rahul Gandhi in his 2004 affidavit disclosed that he had an M.Phil in Development Economics from Trinity College Cambridge University in 1995 after completing his Senior Secondary from CBSE in 1989. This, as per Lal, doesn't match up to the consequent affidavits of Rahul Gandhi in 2009 and 2014 that allegedly claim "that he had acquired educational qualification of Bachelor of Arts from Rollins College, Florida in the year 1994." Lal's contention is that the Rollins College mentioning went missing in Gandhi's earlier election affidavit dated 03.04.2004.
"It is thus evident that the Candidate had made a false declaration in his Election Affidavit dated 03.04.2004 by concealing material information regarding his educational qualification of having passed Bachelor of Arts from Rollins College, Florida in the year 1994", claims Lal in his complaint.
Further, on the matter of Rahul Gandhi's education, Lal has claimed that the degrees issued by Trinity College, Cambridge University, in the Congress President's affidavits are varying in nature.
"There is a glaring falsehood on the affidavit on the question as to whether the Candidate has passed M. Phil in the subject “Development Economics”or “Development Studies” – The Candidate has made purposefully false Declaration. He may be called upon to produce his Original Certificate before this Authority," Lal says.
Furthering the UK angle to his allegations, Lal has also claimed that the Congress President withheld information regarding certain properties in the United Kingdom that he allegedly had access to as way of being the alleged Director and Secretary of Backops Limited.
"It is evident from the perusal of aforesaid Memorandum of Association of Backops Limited (Annexure A-7)that the Candidate was a Director and Secretary of the aforesaid Company having its property situated at 2, Frognal Way, London, UK NW3 6XE and 51 and Southgate Street, Winchester, Hampshire, UK SO23 9EH. It is submitted that the candidate has concealed ownership of aforesaid properties," as claimed by Lal
Lal alleged that Rahul Gandhi "has never disclosed the profits that he earned from the business" of the firm Backops Limited. Futher, Lal also raised questions over the income of Rahul Gandhi which may have come once the company got dissolved in the year 2009.
Considering the fact that the scale of allegations are not only regarding Rahul Gandhi's educational qualifications but also go to the root and raise serious doubts regarding the Congress President's Citizenship, the complainant listed a series of unanswered questions in his affidavit.
The affidavit submitted, under Section 36 of Representation of the People Act, 1951, asks the following questions:
Meanwhile, following the complaint seeking scrutiny of the nomination papers, the Returning Officer of Amethi has sought answers from Rahul Gandhi's representative Rahul Kaushik, who has in turn reportedly sought time till Monday, April 22, to address them. The request for time has been granted.
As the controversy gets bigger on the heels of another phase of voting, the question really is: Will Rahul Gandhi go public with a detailed and specific response to the allegations mounted against him? Only time will tell.