The US chapter of the Overseas Friends of the BJP on Thursday morning tweeted that it is "fully functional and is not under any investigation".
In addition to mentioning a change in office bearers, the Overseas Friends of the BJP also informed it "has voluntarily" registered with the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The Overseas Friends of the BJP tweeted," OFBJP-USA has voluntarily registered with DOJ under FARA. President @krishnareddyNJ has stepped down due to his family reasons and @AdapaVPrasad took over the responsibilities as the working President. OFBJP-USA is fully functional and is not under any investigation. @vijai63"
OFBJP-USA has voluntarily registered with DOJ under FARA. President @krishnareddyNJ has stepped down due to his family reasons and @AdapaVPrasad took over the responsibilities as the working President. OFBJP-USA is fully functional and is not under any investigation. @vijai63— OFBJP - USA (@ofbjp_usa) September 10, 2020
The outfit also tagged Dr Vijay Chauthaiwale, who heads the foreign affairs department of the BJP.
FARA regulates functioning of agents of foreign actors who are involved in political activity in the US. According to the Department of Justice, FARA "requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities."
The statement by the Overseas Friends of the BJP came following a series of tweets by Pieter Friedrich, a US-based researcher specialising in South Asia.
Friedrich tweeted on Wednesday night that the Overseas Friends of the BJP "is reportedly under investigation by @TheJusticeDept & has suspended all activities”.
In a series of tweets, Friedrich claimed the president of the US chapter of the Overseas Friends of the BJP had in 2019 "estimated the group had a loose network of up to 300,000 Indian-Americans. In 2014, it had boasted 18 chapters in 13 states, approx 4,000 members, an elected National Executive Committee of 10, & a 40-person National Council."
Friedrich also claimed the Overseas Friends of the BJP had "stripped" its website of functionalities such as details of leadership. Currently, the website of Overseas Friends of the BJP has a statement: Disseminated by Overseas Friends of BJP-USA, a registered foreign agent, on behalf of the Bharatiya Janata Party. More information is on file with the Dept. of Justice, Washington, DC.
Friedrich also tweeted a registration document for FARA filed by the Overseas Friends of the BJP on August 27.
Friedrich asked whether Overseas Friends of the BJP had been violating FARA and even claimed, "Indian-American #BJP backers were backbone for Modi's election".
Friedrich also posted a recent report from The Indian Express that said Chauthaiwale had asked members of the Overseas Friends of the BJP not to use the party's name while campaigning in the coming US elections.
Friedrich had extensively covered the rise of Democratic leader Tulsi Gabbard, a practising Hindu, and had claimed elements with BJP links had aided in her bid to be the Democratic party's presidential candidate. Gabbard dropped out of the Democratic presidential race in March this year.