"I am surprised that the committee of ethics has chosen to take cognizance of a complaint that is not in order. This is an endeavour to malign my good name. I have never at any stage sought or acquired British citizenship. My identity is that of an Indian."
Rahul Gandhi has replied to the notice of a Lok Sabha panel on the issue of his alleged "dual citizenship", questioning its decision of taking cognizance of a "complaint that is not in order" and daring BJP leader Subramanian Swamy to make public his British passport number and other relevant documents.
In his reply to the notice issued by the Ethics Committee headed by BJP patriarch L K Advani, the Congress vice president also said the complainant has "wantonly misled" on the issue.
"I am surprised that the committee of ethics has chosen to take cognizance of a complaint that is not in order. This is an endeavour to malign my good name. I have never at any stage sought or acquired British citizenship. My identity is that of an Indian," Gandhi said in his reply to the panel secretariat on March 23.
According to sources close to the development, Gandhi demanded that the complainant produce evidence to substantiate his allegation and file an affidavit in support of his contention.
"The documents on which he relies in support of his contention nowhere mention that I have ever declared myself as a British citizen," he said, alleging it is evident that the complainant has "wantonly misled".
Noting that citizenship is a matter of fact, he said whether he ever sought or acquired British citizenship would be part of the official documents with the British Home Office. "This fact could have been ascertained from the source before pressing the complaint," he said.
"I urge Mr Swamy for placing on record any proof of Rahul Gandhi being a British citizen by disclosing his alleged British passport number and relevant documents," Gandhi was quoted by sources to have said in his response to the notice.
The Congress leader was issued a notice in the second week of March by Advani-led panel seeking his response to allegations that he declared himself a British citizen to occupy the post of the Director of a company there.
Earlier, in the first week of January, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had forwarded to the Ethics Committee the complaint received from BJP MP Maheish Girri requesting for an "appropriate inquiry" into party colleague Subramanian Swamy's allegation that Gandhi had declared himself a British citizen to float a firm in that country. Swamy had also approached the Speaker in this regard.
"The Ethics Committee has issued a show cause notice asking him (Rahul Gandhi) how he showed his citizenship as British when he was in London and became a Director...," Arjun Ram Meghwal, one of the committee members had said.
Girri, MP from East Delhi, had maintained it was necessary for the people to know the reality and requested the Speaker to initiate an appropriate inquiry.
In a statement, he had also said many "contradictory" facts against Gandhi had come up and there was a "big mystery" over his citizenship.
Swamy, a former MP, had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last November raising questions over Gandhi's citizenship.
Hitting back, Gandhi had then accused Modi of indulging in mudslinging through his "cronies" and dared the government to probe the allegations against him and send him to jail if found guilty.
The Supreme Court had in November last year rejected a plea seeking a CBI inquiry into the allegation against Gandhi and questioned the "authenticity of the document" attached with the PIL and the manner in which those had been procured.