The ruling BJP targeted the Congress Thursday by questioning a purported donation that Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) had received, with BJP president J P Nadda saying that the foundation took $300,000 from People’s Republic of China and the Chinese embassy in 2005-06 to carry out studies that were not in national interest.
The Congress did not comment on the specific allegation, but said the BJP should not live in 2005 and instead discuss the fresh Chinese incursions.
Nadda said the Congress has no moral right to talk about the country’s security after having taken money from China. “Today I was shocked to watch on TV that in 2005-06 People’s Republic of China and the Chinese embassy gave a fat sum to RGF. This is a secret relationship between Congress and China. These people take funds from China and then conduct studies that are not in the interest of the country. These studies create the environment for that. The nation wants to know for what they were paid and what study they conducted,” he said, addressing Madhya Pradesh Jan Samvad, a virtual rally.
Referring to the Congress raising questions over the government’s handling of the Galwan Valley standoff, Nadda said, “All political parties said for the interest of the nation, we are with you Modi ji, you move ahead. Only one family, and its intentions and policy, began raising questions…. today they are standing against China as if there is no sentinel like them. The mistakes of one family made us lose 43,000 sq km of land.”
He added, “You take $300,000 donation and teach us nationalism. Haathi ke daant dikhaneke aur khane ke alag hote hain.”
Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, echoed this: “The donors list of RGF annual report in 2005-06 clearly shows that it received a donation from the Embassy of People’s Republic of China. We want to know why this donation was taken.”
The two BJP leaders were referring to an account of donations made to RGF in 2005-06 and its annual report of the period when the RGF carried out a study on free trade agreement between India and China and suggested it to be beneficial to India.
The RGF annual report for 2005-06 mentions the Embassy of The People’s Republic of China as one of the “partner organisations and donors”. China’s name figures in the list of donors for Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies (RGICS), a policy think tank promoted by RGF.
Among the many donors for RGICS are Government of People’s Republic of China, European Commission, Government of Ireland and United Nations Development Programme.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of RGF and the trustees include former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and P Chidambaram besides Suman Dubey are trustee cum executive committee members.
While the Congress skirted questions on the donation and instead accused the BJP of trying to divert attention from the Chinese incursions, Vijay Mahajan, Secretary and CEO of the RGF, did not respond to telephone calls and text messages.
The annual report mentions that economist Bibek Debroy— chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the PM— was director of RGICS till December 12, 2005. After his exit, P D Kaushik took over as acting director. When contacted, Debroy said, “I am aware of this but this happened after I had left.” Kaushik could not be contacted.
The Congress hit back at the BJP for what it called a “disinformation and sinister campaign” against the party and Rahul Gandhi. Senior leader Anand Sharma put out a list of the BJP’s engagements with the Communist Party of China.
Congress communication department head Randeep Surjewala said, “Please stop living in 2005 and start answering questions in 2020.”
He said the issue today is that the “Chinese have made fresh transgressions in the Galwan Valley… Chinese army has made serious build-up in the Depsang area… Why is the government mum about further Chinese presence in the eastern Ladakh area? In the national interest… the nation wants to know the answers for these questions instead of diversionary tactics of the BJP government.”
Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, had visited China four times, then as PM five times, and invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to India three times. Modi and the Chinese President, Surjewala said, met 18 times in the last six years. He claimed that the RSS held consultations with the Communist Party of China in 2009 and a year earlier the BJP received a Chinese delegation and held confabulations with them.
“Is it also not correct that in January 2011, the then BJP president Nitin Gadkari took a delegation of the BJP to China and held detailed consultations. Were they anti-India consultations? Is it not correct that in 2014, the BJP sent a 13-member MP-MLA delegation for studying the Chinese political system… were those anti-India activities… but today is not the time to discuss all those… today is the day to discuss about fresh Chinese incursions… instead of diversions,” he said.
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