The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation has found itself at the heart of a controversy after it was revealed that it received over Rs. 1 crore as donations from the Government of China during the UPA regime. The foundation counts Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi among its top functionaries. OpIndia can now report that such shady links between the RGF and China continued as late as 2018-2019.
According to the annual report of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation for the year 2018-19, Bharti Foundation was one of the organisations that donated to it. During the same year, Bharti Foundation was also partners with Huawei, recognised widely as an extended arm of the Chinese state. The annual report states that income for the RGF for the year 2018-19 from grants and donations was Rs. 95,91,766 rupees.
Earlier in 2020, the Trump administration in the US had blocked Huawei and its suppliers from accessing American technology and software. The US has made it clear that Huawei is a threat to their national security due to their extensive links to the Chinese Communist Party. For similar reasons, the United Kingdom is also considering banning Huawei from its 5G networks.
U.S. intelligence officials have been raising concerns for years about the potential for Huawei to use its network access to spy, or worse, to shut down communications in the event of a cyberwar.
The threat posed by Huawei has been clear for quite some time. And yet, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation managed by top Congress functionaries were receiving funds as late as 2018-19 from an NGO that had partnered with Huawei.
The documents submitted by Bharti Foundation to the Home Ministry also reveals that it received over Rs. 14 crores in the fiscal year 2018-19 from the Qatar Foundation Endowment. The Qatar Foundation is a private charity established by former Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and his consort Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.
Currently, the Board of Trustees of Qatar Foundation includes Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Thani and Sheikh Jassim bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, all members of the Qatari Royalty.
It is not clear exactly what amount the Bharti Foundation donated to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. It is also to be remembered that during this period, the RGF was partners with the Aman Biradari Trust, which was founded by Harsh Mander, an ‘activist’ who is a member of an organisation that works with the Italian Secret Service.
While it is to be made clear that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation did not receive donations from an organisation established by Qatari Royalty and was not partners with Huawei, they did receive donations from an organisation that did. Given everything else that we know about the links of Congress party with the CCP, which includes the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two, it only adds to the aura of suspicion and doubt regarding the operation of the foundation.