Congress leader P Chidambaram on Saturday attacked Bharatiya Janata Party and accused the party’s President JP Nadda of “specialising in half-truths” over allegations of impropriety in Rajiv Gandhi Foundation receiving money from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund in 2007-’08.
The PMNRF receives money from citizens and organisations for relief work during natural and man-made disasters. It is under the Prime Minister’s Office. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson of the RGF and its board members include party leaders Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Chidambaram. In its annual reports for 2005-’06 and 2007-’08, the foundation has shown that PMNRF donated funds to it.
On Friday, Nadda claimed it was a “brazen fraud” and that people of India have been betrayed. He also posted screenshots of the annual reports. “One family’s hunger for wealth has cost the nation immensely,” Nadda added. “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!”
“BJP President Mr Nadda specialises in speaking half-truths,” Chidambaram tweeted in response on Saturday. “My colleague Mr Randeep Surjewala exposed his half truths yesterday. Why is the BJP hiding the fact that the Rs 20 lakhs received by RGF from PM National Relief Fund in 2005 was for tsunami relief work in Andaman and Nicobar? And that every rupee was spent for the purpose and accounted for?”
He also urged Nadda to “come to terms with reality” and focus on answering questions over Chinese intrusions into Indian territory. “What has the grant to RGF 15 years ago got to do with China’s intrusion into Indian territory in 2020 under the watch of the Modi government,” the former finance minister asked. “Suppose RGF returns the Rs 20 lakh, will Prime Minister Narendra Modi assure the country that China will vacate its transgression and restore status quo ante?”
In a statement issued on Friday, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala called the allegations as “diversion, distraction and disinformation” tactic. “We want to tell Modi and BJP President Shri Nadda that their total failure to protect national security and territorial integrity of India cannot be washed away in the cacophony of manufactured and desperate allegations vis-à-vis grants received by the RGF foundation which has been duly audited and reported both to the Income Tax as also to the home ministry,” he added.
The ruling party’s latest allegation came a day after it accused the RGF of accepting funds from the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. Referring to this, Surjewala said the Rs 1.45 crore received from them was for disabled persons welfare programme and research on India-China relationships. “RGF accounts were duly audited and statutory returns were filed under Foreign Contributions Regulation Act to the Government of India,” the Congress leader added. “This grant has been duly reflected in all filings to the income tax and the home ministry and no authority has ever found any wrongdoing of any nature.”