With the Congress party facing criticism over their stand post the Galwan standoff between India and China, many startling revelations came to the fore yesterday that only intensified the questions. OpIndia reported how the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation had received donations from not just the Embassy of China but also the Government of China not once but at least thrice between 2005 and 2009.
One donation amounted to Rs 10 lacs and another one amounted to Rs 90 lacs. Post the report, questions of quid-pro-quo were raised and launching an attack against Congress, BJP had asked whether Congress was soft on China and were making statements that favoured the Communist nation during the Galwan standoff because of the monetary transactions between Congress and China.
As it turns out, taking monetary donation from the Government of China was not the only problematic element in the Annual Reports of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation which is chaired by Sonia Gandhi and has Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram listed as trustees. As disclosed in the Annual Reports, the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received donations from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Funds not once but multiple times.
In the year 2005-2006, the Annual Report makes a disclosure that the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation received a donation from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. The same disclosure is also made in the 2006-2007 report. Again in 2007-2008, the Foundation for a ‘donation’ from the PMNRF.
Though the amount of such donation is not clear yet, it is a fact that a donation was indeed made.
The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was established in the year 1948. Initially, the purpose of the fund was to provide assistance to displaced people from Pakistan during and right after the partition of India. The resources of the PMNRF are now utilized primarily to render immediate relief to families of those killed in natural calamities like floods, cyclones and earthquakes, etc. and to the victims of the major accidents and riots. Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered, to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack etc.
The fund consists entirely of public contributions and does not get any budgetary support. The corpus of the fund is invested in various forms with scheduled commercial banks and other agencies. Disbursements are made with the approval of the Prime Minister.
Earlier, it was a requirement for the Congress President to be on the board of PMNRF, however, later, that was changed and it was mandated that fund disbursement from the PMNRF will be carried out at the discretion of the Prime Minister.
It is for this reason that the “donation” from PMNRF to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation becomes rather dubious.
It is to be kept in mind that from 2005 to 2008, the period in which donations were made from PMNRF to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the Prime Minister of India was PM Manmohan Singh, who is famed to have little control over the government. Sonia Gandhi had complete control of the government of the time. In fact, NAC files had revealed that Sonia Gandhi was indeed the ‘Super PM’ and had complete control on the decisions taken by Manmohan Singh.
Thus, in this scenario, for all practical purposes, it was Sonia Gandhi who diverted funds from the PMNRF to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, a foundation that she is the chairperson of. What is pertinent to note here is that all the funds in the PMNRF is contributed by the citizens of India and is to be used during national disasters and calamities. Thus, on the face of it, it is evident that the people’s money which was meant to be used for relief to the people during national disasters was diverted to a privately controlled fund by Sonia Gandhi.
The PMNRF vs PM CARES controversy
In April 2020, Sonia Gandhi, the current President of the Congress party has asked the Prime Minister to transfer all the funds received under PM CARES, that was set up to fight the Coronavirus pandemic, to the Prime Ministers National Relief Fund (PMNRF). According to Sonia Gandhi, this should have been done for ‘better transparency, accountability and efficiency’.
Sonia Gandhi and even Rahul Gandhi had repeatedly insinuated that the PMNRF is far more transparent and when such a fund existed to battle national emergencies, the setting up of PM CARES was not necessary. The entire “liberal” cabal had also gone on an overdrive to insinuate that the funds received under PM CARES would not be used judiciously and transparently.
Interestingly, the PMNRF is far less transparent than the PM CARES since after PMNRF was deemed a trust, it has functioned without a trust deed. Essentially, giving unbridled power to the Prime Minister with zero accountability. Till date, nobody knows what the guidelines that govern the PMNRF are.
The lack of transparency in the employment of funds under PMNRF is now apparent with information coming to light about how its funds were misappropriated and transferred to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation by Sonia Gandhi.
BJP reacts to PMNRF funds being diverted to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation
The BJP came out all funds blazing demanding answers from the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi.
BJP President JP Nadda issued a statement saying, “PMNRF, meant to help people in distress, was donating money to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in UPA yrs. Who sat on PMNRF board? Sonia Gandhi. Who chairs RGF? Sonia Gandhi. Totally reprehensible, disregarding ethics, processes & not bothering about transparency”.
He further said, “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”.