Excuse Me, I Forgot My Nationality

The facts of the case against Mr Gandhi are clear. In a Company incorporated in 2003 in UK, in many documents his nationality has been marked as BRITISH while in some it is INDIAN.

Rahul Gandhi, Congress President in waiting, is in the news once again. Mr Subramanian Swamy has once again raised the Congress heckles by bringing Rahul Gandhi’s nationality issue in focus. Is he wrong? In light of the documents released by him there does appear to be some explanation due from the Gandhi scion. Mr Gandhi is no ordinary Indian and for him to make mistakes on the issue of his nationality is indeed very surprising. He is heir apparent of what is termed as nation’s first political family. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2004. He is currently a Congress Vice President and expected to be the party President sooner or later as per party proclamations. One may also add that his mother has always harboured a wish to see her son as the Prime Minister of India; it is a different matter that Rahul Gandhi himself has always been reluctant to shoulder that responsibility. Most of Congress young brigade and some veterans want to see Rahul at the helm for various vested reasons that have nothing to do with his suitability, capability or worthiness for that high office. It is more because of the prevalent political sycophancy in Congress, the need for their own survival and continuance as part of the nation’s political glitterati.25rahul

The facts of the case against Mr Gandhi are clear. In a Company incorporated in 2003 in UK, in many documents his nationality has been marked as BRITISH while in some it is INDIAN. Congress Party’s claims that this was a typographical error does not cut much ice since in subsequent annual reports of the company for years 2005 & 2006, that are in public domain, the nationality is once again shown as BRITISH. Congress Party has brought out a copy of modified annual report document of 2004 in its defence wherein the word ‘BRITISH’ has been scored by hand and ‘INDIAN’ written instead. This amendment was done reportedly by the other director of the company who is an American national. This document raises more questions than it clarifies since all such documents are filled and submitted on line, therefore making corrections by hand is normally not an option. The registered addresses of the company in UK too raise some doubts. On the face of it one does not require the services of Sherlock Homes to decipher what all this means. It would also stand to reason to assume that British authorities would not have accepted a Director’s nationality declaration at the time of incorporation of the company without a valid supporting document. That should be a fair assumption. The next logical question that needs an answer is whether Mr Gandhi’s tax returns in India during that period mention his interests and income from the company in UK. One cannot see any reports or confirmation on this subject so far in the media or elsewhere.

The question that arises is what should be done by Mr Gandhi in such a situation? Should he politicise it or just make the required clarifications and get on with his other more important work? Being a public figure that he is, one thing is certain that he cannot get away by wishing this issue away. Therefore the need for clarifications will always be there, whether he does it in an individual capacity or takes the recourse of politicising it to hopefully draw some sympathy and compassion from the Indian public. It does appear he has taken the later route as is obvious from the defence that is being mounted by party spokesmen over the last few days and his rather amateurish press conference on 19 November 2015 that hardly helped his cause in the mind of any rationally thinking India. But then as is the want of most Indian politicians, the drama enacted was more for the gallery and devoid of any rationality to close the issue and move on. Will Congress try and get some political mileage out of this approach? Will it use this issue as a means to stall the parliament in the ensuing winter session? The answers to both questions are obvious.

The fact that neither Mr Gandhi nor his party are clarifying the anomalies raised, does convey a message that somewhere they are on a weak wicket. If they could talk from a position of strength, ideally by now the matter would have been clarified and Congress could have used the opportunity to show BJP in a poor light and accuse it of using false and malicious means to target the Gandhi scion. That would have certainly fetched them handsome political dividends. But this route has been shunned by them. So by inference it does stand to logic that Mr Gandhi has some explaining to do but he appears to have no valid answers. His claim of being a victim of witch hunt by ‘chamchas’ of Mr Narendra Modi and his dare asking Mr Modi to use his 56 inch chest to target him directly instead of using proxies does not cut much ice. It only shows that he seems to have been rattled, lost his sense of balance and does not know which way to go. Unfortunately Rahul Gandhi forgets that as on date neither he nor his party really amount to anything substantial as far as Mr Modi or his government or BJP are concerned. One may even add the nation in the list without the fear of being very wrong.

The issue of Mr Gandhi’s nationality is no more a fight between him and Mr Subramanian Swamy. It is now for the government to do a quick scrutiny and come out with the truth, whichever way it is. Procrastination on this matter will not be in the interest of the government because in such a scenario it may send a wrong message to the nation that the BJP was indeed playing games and being vindictive. A quick resolution will be in favour of the government on two counts. If Mr Gandhi is indeed guilty of a false declaration, then his already low credibility will certainly take a further hit. If he is not guilty and the matter can be dismissed as a mistake, still Mr Gandhi will still lose face and it will give BJP some ammunition to run him down. Either way the issue will reinforce his ‘Pappu’ image.

Saroj Chadha, an engineering professional, is a successful entrepreneur. Having retired from the Indian Army after having served for over 23 years, he has also been a consultant for leading Indian and Multinational electrical companies. He lives in New Delhi.

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