While the Congress is facing yet another challenge from within with long-time party loyalists doubtful about its future, the news about the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into by the party with the Communist Party of China (CCP) in 2008 has now become a matter of concern because of two pertinent reasons. Firstly, the Congress is just not willing to disclose the contents of this MoU with the CCP, which not only controls the Chinese government but runs that country in every sense of the word. Secondly, there is the news about donations received by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) from the Chinese Government.
The MoU was signed on behalf of the party by Rahul Gandhi, its general secretary at that time, and by an official of the CCP in the presence of his mother and party president, Sonia Gandhi and the then Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping. Despite mounting public demand, the Nehru-Gandhis are chary of releasing this MoU. What are they afraid of? To begin with, the Congress must explain why the RGF, which, like the party, is a closely held enterprise of the Nehru-Gandhi family, took a donation from China—a nation that has spurned India’s hand of friendship and repeatedly challenged India’s territorial integrity for over seven decades.
Posting a picture of the MoU-signing ceremony, the noted lawyer Mahesh Jethmalani tweeted and said it was imperative for the party to disclose the details. More ominously (for the Congress), the lawyer noted that “China was and is in Indian law, an enemy country. The CCP is an enemy association. The CCP supports the occupation of Indian territory and lays claim to other territory. Any agreement/MoU with the CCP validates the CCP’s stand and is an unlawful activity punishable under the UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act),” says Jethmalani. He has also suggested a CBI probe into possible offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Foreign Contribution Regulation Acts of 1976 and 2010.
This question becomes all the more relevant at a time when Indian soldiers laid down their lives while countering yet another attempted incursion by the Chinese in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh and the continued aggressive posture of the Chinese army along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). There is also a domestic angle to the scandal involving funds flowing into this family’s trust, which is even more appalling. This relates to the diversion of funds from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), which is primarily meant to lend succour to people in times of natural calamities, etc., to the RGF when the party headed the coalition that ran the Union government from 2004 to 2014.
Apart from the Nehru-Gandhis, Manmohan Singh, who was the prime minister at that time, must explain how he allowed such gross misuse of a public fund directly under his charge. The news about the donation from the government of China to the Congress has stirred a hornet’s nest as it has raised questions about the sanctity of the transaction and its possible impact on India’s sovereignty, unity and integrity. The Congress, which was at the vanguard of the freedom movement, has for long enjoyed the trust and love of the people for the enormous sacrifices made by its leaders to secure the country’s freedom.
However, this reverence began to fade away when, after the advent of Indira Gandhi, the party became a clone of a private limited company that was tightly held by the Nehru-Gandhi family and which allowed the family’s insecurities and pettiness to permeate its activities. Consequently, they made India a de facto monarchy and with the help of courtiers in academia and the media, worked overtime to obliterate the contribution of great leaders outside this family.This reached such vulgar proportions that every major government scheme, public building, national institutions, universities, scholarships and sports events were named after members of this family. So, the question now is whether senior leaders of the Congress, who want it to put its house in order, see the impact of all this on the overall image of the party and demand answers from the family.
The sense of entitlement of the family is such that Sonia Gandhi and not Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attended the Beijing Olympics. The Chinese played host to her, her son Rahul Gandhi, her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and son-in-law Robert Vadra. Tweeting about this, Shobha Karandlaje, BJP MP, has said, “This wasn’t just a mockery of the office of the Prime Minister, but a subversion of India’s democratic system & ethos”.There is seething anger in the country regarding the hegemonistic attitude of China and its perfidy after signing agreements vis-a-vis patrolling and other arrangements along the LAC for maintenance of peace. Why is this party at odds with this national sentiment? Will the current churning in the party lead to a change of heart? Also, will the current crop of dissidents, who want the party to put its house in order, see the impact of all this on the overall image of the Congress and demand answers?
A SURYA PRAKASH
Vice-Chairman, Executive Council, Nehru Memorial Museum & Library