On Friday morning, BJP President JP Nadda shared a series of tweets of the annual report of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation that was set up in the memory of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi after his assassination by members of the LTTE.
The foundation is headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, with her daughter Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra as an Executive Trustee, and also has Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on its board of trustees.
Sharing screenshots of the 2007-08 annual report of the foundation, Nadda said that one of the donors to the foundation was the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
“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. 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 tweeted.
Interestingly, this isn’t the only time the PMNRF donated to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Free Press Journal saw the annual reports between 2004 and 2014 – the period when the UPA was in power and saw that there was more than one occasion when the PMNRF had donated to the Foundation. The 2005-06 annual report, too, shows a donation by the PMNRF, while the Ministry of Home Affairs that was headed by Congress leader Shivraj Patil donated to the foundation. In 2005-06, the Women Development and Child Welfare department in Andhra Pradesh also donated to the foundation. YSR Reddy was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh during this period.
In addition, the home department at the Government of Tripura also donated to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, along with the Women Development and Child Welfare department in Andhra Pradesh donated to the foundation in 2007-08.
While there is no rule that ministries cannot donate to a foundation, it's only fair to ask why Congress governments in the Centre and state donated to the foundation. Interestingly, in the last financial year, the foundation got minimal donations
Nadda’s questions are significant because just last month, Congress President Sonia Gandhi asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider donating money into PM-CARES and rather let people donate money to the PMNRF.
On any other day, this would be a reasonable request, given that there are several questions surrounding PM-CARES, particularly its refusal to be questioned under the Right to Information Act. However, Nadda’s tweets and the fact that the President of the Indian National Congress is part of PMNRF also raised eyebrows.
According to the Fund's website, PMNRF was not constituted by the Parliament. "The fund is recognized as a Trust under the Income Tax Act and the same is managed by Prime Minister or multiple delegates for national causes," the website adds.
The appeal by Prime Minister Nehru dated January 24, 1948 is available on the Fund's website and mentions that he felt "it would be desirable to have a central relief fund which can be used for any type of emergency relief of distress but which must now be especially used for the relief and rehabilitation of refugees from Pakistan who have come to India".
Announcing that he was starting the Fund, Nehru had said that to begin with the Fund would be managed by a committee consisting of:
The Prime Minister
The President of the Indian National Congress
The Deputy Prime Minister
The Finance Minister
A representative of the Tata Trustees
A representative of Industry and Commerce to be chosen by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI).