Mahatma Gandhi did not insist on transparency and candour without reason. In social life, cunning and hypocrisy can serve immediate interests, but long-term interests are disturbed, but it seems that some political parties and their leaders are abandoning ideals and principles in a hurry to get power and then use it arbitrarily. That is why the leaders of the Congress are getting stuck in new trouble one after the other. The legal loop is getting stronger on allegations of taking land, raising funds, or using an NGO or trust as a company. Not only did Chief Minister A.R. Antulay get into trouble because of the Indira Gandhi Pratibha Pratishthan forty years ago, the Congress and Indira Gandhi were very upset when she was Prime Minister. Despite this experience, now the Congress is in trouble by forming a trust in the category of NGO and then taking foreign funds, including from China, against the rules and the party finds itself in trouble from land-building deals, in the name of publishing institution. The Government of India is also scrutinising very carefully and taking slow action. The first setback in this episode has been given to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation by cancelling the licence after a serious case of misuse of the licence to receive foreign funding.
No one could object to the establishment of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust for socio-economic work in the fields of aid, education, health, employment, etc. to the poor. Earlier, no one raised any objection to the activities of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust. There were also some experienced and dedicated people in these institutions in the initial years. But later, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and some of their close people started using different sources to raise funds for these institutions and loosened the process of social assistance work. In the first Rao Raj, Manmohan Singh had made a provision of giving Rs 100 crore directly to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in the budget of 1991-92 as the Finance Minister. The opposition then created a huge uproar, and the foundation used the back door to request that the government spend the money on the projects they mentioned. But when Manmohan Singh became Prime Minister, crores of rupees were given every year to the Foundation directly by various ministries and public-sector institutions. The culmination has been that, apart from foreign institutions, a large amount of money was also taken from the Chinese government for the Foundation. Under Manmohan Singh, no government ministry or agency could point fingers at foreign funding. However, since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election, hundreds of organisations registered with NGOs have been investigated, and cases of rule violations and misuse of foreign funding have come to light. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, including donations from China between 2006 and 2009, has also been called into question. The allegation became serious because, in the same period, agreements were also reached between the ruling Congress party and the Communist Party of China. The funny thing is that Manmohan Singh is also a trustee of this foundation. It is not that the government has initiated action against the Foundation and members of the Gandhi family due to haste and the upcoming Assembly elections. For almost two years, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate, and CBI were investigating in depth the functioning of such NGOs and foreign funding.
According to government records, about 40 lakh NGOs were registered in different categories before the Modi government came. Of these, 33,000 NGOs have received grants of about Rs 13,000 crore. The funny fact is that around 2011, the foreign capital for the country’s industries was $4.4 billion, while the grant to NGOs was $3.3 billion. Since that time, the security agencies have been investigating the misuse of foreign funds by such organizations. The fact is that the claims of expenditure for helping tribals in Naxal-affected areas by some organizations—the so-called accounts—were proved to be wrong only after continuous investigation. The investigation work was accelerated after the BJP government took office, and the government banned foreign funding to approximately 8875 NGOs under the Foreign Grants Regulatory Act and also cancelled the recognition of 19 thousand fake NGOs. It is said that the work of about 42,000 NGOs is being reviewed. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also ordered that grants from ten foreign organisations be given to the government when they visit India in the future.
The members of the Gandhi family have long experience in power yet have been embroiled in a legal battle for the first Herald newspaper by setting up a young Indian private company. In the name of the Herald newspaper, many buildings have been built in many states by taking government land at concessional rates, but there is no newspaper and the buildings are rented out to commercial companies. This matter will be decided by the court itself. But the issue of foreign funding for the Foundation is going to be mired in serious criminal law laws. Such actions will definitely be called earning money and misusing it under the guise of social service. It is also a fact that not only China and Pakistan, but also some other countries’ institutions, agencies, and companies have always been active in creating obstacles to India’s economic, political, and social success. They use the communal and terrorist elements in India as a puppet. So it is not a matter of one party, institution, and leaders. In the name of social service, religion, and culture, many organizations and NGOs are involved in such illegal activities. If this is not hypocrisy, then what should it be called? Such cases have been reported from Kashmir to Kerala or from the Northeast to Goa. Apart from illegal funding, unrestrained accusations, agitations, and activities are increasing directly or indirectly against the elected government. Therefore, the government should also expedite its investigation and action and get a decision from the courts.
The author is editorial director of ITV Network-India News and Danak Aaj Samaj.