Reasons why Ms. Sonia Gandhi should be disqualified as MP

via STATEMENT OF DR.SUBRAMANIAN SWAMY, PRESIDENT OF JANATA PARTY published on February 20, 2008

The Election Commission, by a majority of 2:1, has decided to issue notice to the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, seeking her response to an allegation that she had incurred disqualification as a Member of Parliament, under Article 102(1)(d) of the Constitution, for accepting the ‘Order of Leopold’ from the King of Belgium in November 2006. Article 102 (e) of the Constitution says that a person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, (a line missing – see encl) a member…. India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign state, or is under any acknowledgement of allegiance or adherence to a foreign state.”

Disqualification of Ms.Gandhi is thus attracted under Article 102 (1) (d) of the Constitution for being “under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign state.”

On being granted the ‘title’ Ms.Gandhi had signed the Register as Member of the ‘Association of the Order of Leopold’ Article 1 of the Association has the provision that the Association members will ‘display an eternal devotion to Belgium and the monarchy,’ Ms.Gandhi had thus attracted disqualification.” [see Enclosure]

A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, as President had referred to the Commission a petition on this matter received from P.Rajan an advocate of Kochi. It is significant that Election Commission’s Legal Department had recommended ‘Issue of Notice’ to Ms.Gandhi in September 2007 but it was only on February 14, 2008 that the EC found a prima facie case had been made out by the petitioner for issuing notice.

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When Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress and chairperson of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, accepted in person the highest honour given by the King of Belgium, the Order of Leopold, on 15 November, 2006, she should have realised the legal and constitutional implications of a sitting member of the Lok Sabha accepting such foreign titles having learnt the hard way the significance of Article 102 in the office of profit matter earlier. Section (2) of Article 18 of the Indian Constitution says: “No citizen of India shall accept any title from any foreign state;”, and Section (4) says: “No person holding any office of profit or trust under the state shall, without the consent of the President, accept any present, emolument, or office of any kind from or under any foreign state.”

That Sonia Gandhi had not taken any permission from the President is evident from the fact that Dr.Abdul Kalam, who was then the President, had forwarded the representation from Advocate Rajan, seeking her disqualification as member of the Lok Sabha for accepting the award from the King of Belgium.

The Order of Leopold is not an ordinary title given by a foreign power. It demands the devotion and loyalty of the recipient to the King of Belgium. Sonia Gandhi attended in person the investiture ceremony in Belgium and signed the register of the Association of the Order of Leopold, signifying her voluntary declaration of allegiance to the King of Belgium, a foreign monarch of a dubious reputation. The Association of the Order of Leopold was established in 1944 with a view to displaying “eternal devotion to Belgium and to the monarchy.” Every member of the Association must, under law, take an oath which says: “I swear not to undertake anything that could damage the respectability of the Order of Leopold and to fully observe the regulations and act as a loyal and faithful member.” Attempt by the Congress to compare Sonia Gandhi accepting the Belgium award to Morarji Desai accepting Nishan-e-Pakistan award or India conferring Bharat Ratna on Nelson Mandela, is stupid. The recipients in these cases were under no obligation to the country that offered the awards. That a member of Indian Parliament should express devotion and loyalty to King Leopold who plundered and massacred, the people of Belgium Congo, now called Zaire, is nationally demeaning and disgraceful.

The legality of such split loyalty was settled in 1985 when a Full Bench of the Madras High Court [AIR 1985 Mad.855] disqualified K.S.Haja Sharief, an Indian citizen, from membership of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Council for accepting the title of Honorary Consul of Monaco, a tiny European country.

The Election Commission should therefore let law take its course, and disqualify Ms.Gandhi. She should also publicly apologize to the people of all Third World countries for declaring allegiance to a brutal, feudal oppresser of the Zaire people. [For details of his murderous activities, read Hochschild, Adam: King Leopold’s Ghost-A Story of Greed, Terror, and Murder in Colonial Africa, Macmillan (1998) (ISBN:0333661265)].

In a recent broadcast, the BBC held King Leopold responsible for 10 million deaths in Zaire, more than Hitler, who is had got killed 6 million Jews.

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