Congress sinks in bigger hole; PM disaster funds in RGF’s coffers a “brazen fraud”

26th June 2020

26th June 2020

Skeletons seem to be tumbling out of Congress’ cupboard in profusion even as the national party continues to bury its head in the sand.

The latest missile is a disclosure that the funds collected for the PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF) were being “donated” to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation during the tenure of United Progressive Alliance (UPA), in power between 2004-2014.

The donors’ list to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) show that in 2005-2006, funds were received from the PMNRF. Another “donation” from PMNRF was received in 2007-2008.

If anything, this is worse than the donations by the Chinese government and its embassy to RGF, now in public domain, since PMNRF is raised from the pockets of ordinary Indians and are specifically collected for natural and man-made disasters. This includes floods, cyclone, earthquake, riots etc. It’s unclear what “disaster” had engulfed the RGF for the “donations” from the PMNRF to be made available to them.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president J.P. Nadda has held back no punches in his tweets, claiming that a clear breach of “ethics”, “processes” and “transparency” has been committed by the Congress party in such a “transfer” of funds meant for national disasters. He has put the matter on doors of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in no uncertain terms.

“Who sat on the PMNRF board? Smt Sonia Gandhi. Who chairs RGF? Smt. Sonia Gandhi,” tweeted Nadda.

“People of India donated their hard-earned money to PMNRF to help their fellow citizens in need. To divert this public money into a family-run foundation is not only a brazen fraud but also a big betrayal of the people of India,” read another of Nadda’s tweet.

Readers would recall that Congress has dug itself into a hole when the disclosure broke out on Thursday, exposing the donations the RGF received from the Chinese government and its embassy.

 It was again annual reports of the RGF made public which shone light on donations the RGF received from official Chinese sources worth over Rs 1 crore more than once.  

RGF and its board has among others former prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and P. Chidambaram and of course Sonia Gandhi.

In a series of tweets, Amit Malviya, head of BJP IT Cell, had made some startling disclosures:

Malviya pointed out that the 2006-2007 returns of Rajiv Gandh Foundation showed a donation of Rs 90 lakh from the Chinese Embassy.

Further, that not just the Chinese embassy but even the government of People’s Republic of China has donated to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

A direct corollary is being drawn since the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation not in one but in several studies later termed it desirable and required to have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.

These studies by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation make a direct case for FTA with China by arguing:

(a) That India needs the FTA much more than China and should pursue it as part of its efforts to improve bilateral relations.

(b) This despite the admission that China was already benefitting much more than India from the imbalanced trade.

The trade deficit between India and China subsequently jumped 33 times between 2003-2004 and 2013-2014. From $11.8 billion in 2003-2004, it jumped to $36.2 billion in 2013-2014 in China’s favour under the UPA government.

As per Malviya, on the other hand, under NDA, India has made significant progress in reducing the trade deficit (23% reduction from $53.1 billion in 2017-2018 to $48.7 bn in 2019-2020.

It would be difficult for India’s people to believe that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Congress and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2008 was not an outcome of “donations” to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation unless the Congress party comes out clean on the matter quickly and douse the fire.

Congress could hurt itself in the gut if it fails to come clean on the MoU or put its content in the public domain. It remains India’s main opposition party with alliances in several states.

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