The chairperson of the RGF’s board of trustees is party interim chief Sonia Gandhi, while its board includes former PM Manmohan Singh, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, among others.
- Last Updated: June 25, 2020, 10:32 PM IST
Amid an ongoing war of words over the Sino-India standoff in eastern Ladakh, the BJP on Thursday accused the Congress of receiving a huge donation from the Chinese Embassy in 2005-06, a charge the opposition party dismissed as an attempt to divert the attention of the country from issues of national security.
Addressing the BJP’s Jan Samvad rally in Bhopal through a video link, Nadda alleged that Congress chief Sonia Gandhi was the chairman of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) when the money was given.
“I saw television and I was shocked and surprised to know that the People’s Republic of China and Chinese Embassy gave three hundred thousand US dollars to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) in 2005-06,” he claimed.
However, a BJP statement later quoted Nadda as saying at the rally that the Chinese embassy gave Rs 90 lakh to the RGF.
“This is the Congress party and China’s secret relationship. After this, Rajiv Gandhi Foundation carried out many studies which advocated free trade,” Nadda alleged.
Sonia Gandhi was the chairperson of RGF, while former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram were members of the board when donation was made, he said.
“The country wants to know why the funds were given to the Foundation? What studies were carried out for that nation?” Nadda said.
Responding to the claims, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Please stop living in 2005 and start answering questions in 2020.”
At a press conference, he 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.
Later, Surjewala said, “This (making allegations) is an act of classical BJP’s desperation, diversion and disinformation and should be rejected with the contempt it deserves.”
Meanwhile, Congress sources 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.
Nadda in his remarks said, “Due to the mistakes of one family we lost 43,000 sq kilometres,” adding the Congress has no moral right to speak about India’s security. He also alleged that during Doklam stand-off between India and China in 2017, bonhomie prevailed between Rahul Gandhi and Chinese officials in Delhi.
Due to weak Congress governments in the past, China was in possession of Indian land, the BJP chief alleged.
The opposition supported the government during 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars, but during the Kargil war the Congress sought an all-party meeting, he said. He also alleged that amid tensions in eastern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control and the coronavirus crisis, the Congress was not playing the role of a responsible opposition.
At a briefing in New Delhi, Union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad also repeated the same allegations and asked whether the Congress took “bribe” to lobby for the free trade agreement between India and China.
Citing a list of donors of the RGF, Prasad asked what was the need for taking the donation from a foreign country.
Terming the foundation “nothing but extension of the Congress party”, Prasad said the RGF in its 2009-11 report said the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between India and China will be feasible, desirable and mutually beneficial.
“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?” he asked.
Taking on Rahul Gandhi, Prasad said in 2008 Congress signed MoU with Communist Party of China.
Hitting back at the BJP’s charges, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said 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.