Amid an ongoing war of words between the government in the Centre and opposition parties over the Sino-India standoff in eastern Ladakh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the Congress of receiving huge donations from the Chinese Embassy in 2005-06 and alleged that the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was misused during the UPA rule.
Citing a list of donors of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the BJP asked the Congress the need for taking the donation from a foreign country. “Was this part of the Congress party’s strategy for lobbying for free trade agreement, for which Rajiv Gandhi foundation received a bribe from the Chinese embassy and India’s trade deficit with China jumped 33 times during Congress-led UPA government?” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the grand-old party.
The charges were however dismissed by the opposition party as an attempt to divert the attention of the country from issues of national security.
Alleging a ‘secret’ relation between Congress and China, the BJP chief said the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received Rs 90 lakh from China and its embassy in 2005-06. “PMNRF, meant to help people in distress, was donating money to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in UPA years. Who sat on the PMNRF board? Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Who chairs RGF? Smt. Sonia Gandhi. Totally reprehensible, disregarding ethics, processes and not bothering about transparency,” he tweeted on Friday.
“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,” he tweeted.
“One family’s hunger for wealth has cost the nation immensely. If only they have devoted their energies towards more constructive agenda. The Congress’ Imperial Dynasty needs to apologise to the unchecked loot for self-gains!” Nadda said in a series of tweets.
The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) was set up on June 21, 1991, to realize the vision of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.The foundation is chaired by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi. The other trustees include former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and P Chidambaram.
In a veiled attack at Congress, the BJP president said, “There are many forms of corruption, there are many ways to bring people in your favour… . 43,000 square km of Indian land lost due to the mistakes of one family.”
Responding to the claims by the BJP, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Please stop living in 2005 and start answering questions in 2020.” Surjewala said when the country wants to know answers on the issues concerning securing the borders and Chinese transgression, the BJP is trying to divert the attention of the nation.
“Attempts are being made to divert the attention from issues of national security, territorial integrity and the Chinese transgression in Indian territory,” he said.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma too hit back at BJP’s charges, saying the Congress led India’s freedom movement and is one of the oldest political parties of the world. “Questioning its patriotism is outrageous,” he said. Sharma listed the BJP delegations that traveled to China and also pointed out the meetings between Chinese and BJP leaders.
Congress sources, meanwhile, told PTI said that in 2005 there was an equivalent matching grant given by the governments of India and China to the RGF for helping the disabled as also undertaking studies by researchers on Indo-China relationship. The grant has been duly audited by the Income Tax department and all other authorities, the sources said.