According to The Hindu, The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has become the first Indian political party to register itself as a foreign principle of a US-based organization. The Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP) has registered under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) under the US Department of Justice on August 27, 2020.
The act says that agents representing the foreign powers in a political or quasi-political party must disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information related to finance.
OFBJP registers itself voluntarily
Vijay Chauthaiwale, BJP’s foreign affairs cell chief, told The Hindu that “The OFBJP registered itself under FARA voluntarily.” Although the BJP and OFBJP didn’t have any financial transactions, The OFBJP consulted the lawyers and decided to register itself under FARA.
According to the sources, the OFBJP says that it is voluntarily engaging in the support of BJP as its own initiative and doesn’t make or receive any compensation regarding its efforts. However, the registrant does engage communication with BJP officials and from time to time act under the direction or at the request of BJP officials when planning events or distributing materials with the US.
Now, after the FARA registration, The OFBJP will have to declare whenever its members meet the US Legislators, hold public events, or receive funding from US groups.
There are also many other Indian entities registered under the act mostly legal, lobby, or public relations that work with the Indian embassy or the tourism department.
Why the overseas friends of BJP registered themselves now?
it is not clear why the BJP Arm decided to register under the act at this time as the Act has been in place since 1938.
Although, it was reported that the US department of justice announced in April that it would conduct a FARA drive and will investigate a wider area of all consultants and organizations. And would send deficiency notices to notify the suspected Foreign agents to stop their acts or get themselves register under FARA. However, OFBJP denied receiving such notice.
It was also reported that OFBJP has told its members not to support anyone candidate during the presidential election and if supporting does not involve the BJP’s name in campaigning for the US party or candidate.