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The Gandhis: A Search for the Truth

There is no bigger taboo in India’s free press than asking hard and pointed questions of the Nehru-Gandhi family.  Few Indian journalists have ventured into this territory. Fewer still have asked the really uncomfortable questions. Questions that demand answers but have been conveniently ignored, dismissed and even forgotten.

Questions for example about Swiss bank accounts apparently held under the name of Smt. Sonia Gandhi containing approximately 2.5 billion SFr (~$2.7 billion) reported in the media more than 20 years back. Although the matter has been raised several times since (including in the print media), it has been met with a stonewall of arrogant silence.

More damning than the questions around Swiss accounts are allegations of funds having being paid by foreign intelligence agencies to Smt. Gandhi and members of the family going back more than 3 decades.  These allegations – to the best of my knowledge – have never been responded to, denied or contradicted. Neither has anyone filed a defamation suit alleging slander against the author of the book where these details were first mentioned.

Such questions abound. They also go a long way in the past. Such as questions around shares acquired by Smt. Gandhi in Indian companies in 1970 & 1974 (while still being a foreigner) in direct contravention of the infamous FERA (Foreign Exchange Regulation Act) which was in force at the time and violations of which could have led to imprisonment for up 7 years.

Or questions around the inconvenient fact that her name appears in the electoral register in 1983 (prepared on the basis of the voters’ list as of 1st Jan 1983) even though she first applied for Indian citizenship only on 7th April 1983.

Or questions around the apparently misleading information regarding her educational qualifications in the affidavit filed in 2004 which mentioned a course in English Language from “Cambridge University”?

Or questions around the basis for her becoming the head of “Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, one of the principal institutions for research on contemporary Indian history” and the awkward, almost surreptitious manner in which she became a President for life of IGNCA, meticulously documented by the redoubtable Arun Shourie.

Or questions of the “Prince”? Such as his reported detention by FBI officials in Boston in late September 2001.

Or the remarkable increase in his total assets between 2004 and 2009 as declared in his affidavits filed with the Election Commission, even though he was engaged full-time in politics?

None of these questions have been publicly answered (to the best of my knowledge). None of the allegations have been openly challenged or followed up – neither by journalists, nor investigative reporters nor the opposition.

Particularly ominous is the thundering silence around disturbing questions to do with Smt. Gandhi, arguably the most powerful woman in India today.  Why has there been no discussion on these numerous transgressions and apparent violations?

Why is there no demand for any investigation? or even an explanation? Why are no questions asked? Why are the allegations dismissed with a practiced air of nonchalance?

What explains the thundering silence? And what is the price for this silence? 

P.S. Note that this is not meant to be a calumny or attempt at defamation. It is an attempt to find the truth. The questions I posed are based on widely available public sources. I am willing to amend this post if evidence is presented to me contrary to any of the points raised. May the truth prevail. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!

Related Posts: If there is only one thing you read today…, Was Rahul Gandhi really arrested at Boston? and on Rahul Gandhi’s Assets and Education..

September 13th, 2013 Posted by | Politics and Governance in India, ToI Columns | 4 comments


  1. P.S. I am reproducing below a comment from Crystalgazer on this post which appeared on the ToI website (and my response to it):
    Comment by Crystalgazer, India

    Mr. Bhagwat, did you receive your payment in rupees or demanded in dollars from APCO?

    Comment by Shantanu
    Who/what is APCO?

    Comment by Crystalgazer, India

    Come on Mr. Shantanu. You are so smart that you have raised up to the second decimal how much Sonia Gandhi has in Swiss bank. And you tell me that you don’t know APCO? Whom are you fooling? Pure innocence?

    Comment by Shantanu
    Dear Crystalgazer, thanks to Google, I realised what you are talking about/ insinuating.
    Since an on-the-record rebuttal is always useful, let me say no one (and I repeat, *no one*, not ToI, not anyone else) pays me anything for what I write. Nor has any offer ever been made.
    Nor any attempt at “influencing” the topics/subjects I write about has ever been made.
    If I may now ask you a few questions of my own, why do you think APCO would pay me? These questions have been in the public domain for several years. I have merely put them together. Second, do you believe they paid Dr Albats too? and the Swiss magazine? And Sh Shourie, Sh Gurumurthy, Sh Jethmalani, Dr Swamy et al?
    If your question was in the nature of harmless banter, pl do not feel obliged to respond.
    I responded because I had to.
    For most of us, our reputation and integrity is all we have.
    Hope this satisfies you and clarifies any doubts you/others may have.

    P.S. I shall be posting this exchange on my blog too – unless you have any specific objection(s). Thanks.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 13, 2013

  2. Thanks for this collection of technicalities. At the end, this is just yet another thread of discussion (about politics) that is merely mechanical. It very much resembles what they do at NDTV with the difference that the subjects of investigation are people with different names. I am hoping to see a little more intelligent discussion sometime.

    That intelligent discussion, I feel, could begin with a little more business-like analysis of a typical politician’s career. Consider, for example, that a promising politician approaches you with a request for a loan of X crores with a 5-year term, and assume that you are a bank manager or whatever. For a business, there would be accepted ways of judging what that X would be (fixed capital, working capital etc.) and what the risks involved would be. If Politics were to be evaluated just like a business, how would you go about it?

    I have heard you say once that a very large sum is needed even to contest a corporation seat. You can imagine what would be needed to fund the entire country’s politics. How various parties manage their affairs in absence of a clear, accepted, ethical way is a mystery to me. I cannot even manage to travel by train without agonising over what is right and what is not and how I could get from A to B if I were to be 100% ethical. (Also, I wonder how Mr. Anna Hazare travels to places at short notice…but I digress).

    Stalwarts like Advani (and MM Singh, Pranav Mukherjee) could have contributed in this respect by coming together to formulate laws and practices to guide Indian politics. Alas, the former is sulking, and the latter are enjoying their obsequious power!

    To sum up, I do not expect any of the top politicians to be clean in every respect. I am not too bothered about the particular manner or the kind of dirt that has gathered around them. Neither the affairs or Maruti (your reference above) nor of Purti (over which Mr. Shrikant Gadkari was witch hunted) would be something I would discuss with priority. I am only concerned about the work politicians do and their suitability/competence for the job.

    Comment by Prakash | September 15, 2013

  3. I have often written comments on this blog based on certain postulates and assumptions. This week, there emerged a strong evidence to support my stand. In brief, I believe that politicians could easily fool common public by employing media and other public forums to discredit their opponents and that common people do well to ignore these political tools.

    Please visit this link and follow this story to see how selective leaks in public domain were/are being used to destroy political careers.

    Comment by Prakash | September 21, 2013

  4. Shantanu,

    My question to you in not on technicalities, but more around if you believe in what has been written by Arun Shourie in 1999, Ram Jethmalani, Dr, Swamy and Gurumurthy, who are known critics of the Nehru-Gandhi family and who themselves have a doubious/partisan view due to their association to a certain right wing Indian political and social organizations – why haven’t you either filed a PIL or have the legal luminaries whom you are quoting not filed a case to this effect on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi who are the flag bearers of the family? Also Why does every time before an election such matters raised to put confusion in the minds people. If you have not done the above, dont you think you are part of the mis-information campaign and using the power of social media and world wide web to spread cannards?

    The issue is as a patriot which you are, and as someone who wants to bring change, it is up on you not just to ask questions to also to act accordingly. Else this post for me is merely a technical conjecture one brews up up as part of a political strategy.

    PS: i have no doubts about your integrity, or honesty, but have issues in your selective targetting of a particular family which has been in active politics! Now that you are a member of AAP, and need Cong help, it would be interesting to see if Arvind Kejriwal and you will raise these issues politically and more importantly through the courts!! Else your integrity could be questioned in terms of not following what you believe and or preach!

    Comment by Ashwin Kumaraswamy | December 28, 2013

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