Let’s go through this quickly.
Rajiv Gandhi foundation.
Chair : Sonia Gandhi
Trustees: Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram.
(1) Public: PMNRF, Home Ministry, SBI, ONGC, SAIL
(2) Foreign Embassies: China
(3) Big corporates: Deutsche Bank
Me: Wow! Or should I say
Now, people have gone on and on about how unseemly this is. The UPA was running the government. The Rajiv Gandhi foundation is headed by the top leadership of Congress. And it has donors/partners in the big global corporates and even foreign powers like China. And that money from PMNRF would be going to this foundation. Or money from our PSUs.
This is the kind of thing that makes you wonder if India is even a democracy. Who really has the power in this country? Are we fooling ourselves?
To me the even more scary part was that the Rajiv Gandhi foundation didn’t even try to hide anything. These donations/partnerships are from early UPA years and the annual reports appear to have been public on their website for a while.
Now think about it. Millions of people can use the internet. Any one of them could have gone to their website and raised a hue and cry. The Congress top leadership was not bothered in the slightest about this.
There are hundreds of newspapers and hundreds of news channels in India. There are thousands of reporters crawling all over the place. Anyone could have found this public information and created an extremely embarrassing situation for the Congress.
But the Congress was not worried. Why?
Let’s not even worry about the legality of these transactions. In fact, let us suppose they did everything legally. But there is no doubt that it looks bad politically.
But it seems the Congress didn’t worry about any political embarrassment arising from this. Why?
Perhaps the answer to this question will lead you to understand what power is and how absolute it can be. Every journalist understands the ecosystem. They know which lines they can never cross. And this goes for all journalists, even the handful who are sympathetic to the right.
And this comes out six years after Modi came to power. Even six years into Modi sarkar, no journalist dared to talk about these documents. Think about the kind of control the ecosystem has.
Even now! Even now! Did you notice something curious : no media dared to say Rajiv Gandhi foundation got X. They all said “BJP alleges that Rajiv Gandhi foundation got X.” There was no doubt. BJP President was quoting directly from the foundation’s own report. The Congress did not deny these accusations either. But media was still terrified. They played it so safe that it was almost funny. Now you see where the “crawled when asked to bend” mentality comes from.
In contrast, see the kind of courage that media has when asking questions to the BJP. Even with 303 Lok Sabha MPs, nobody in the media fears them even a little. Think about the kind of vicious and probing questions that the govt has faced about PMCARES.
Ok, let’s accept that fundamentally this is a good thing. Who would want a democracy in which the media is scared of asking questions to the govt? I don’t want it myself. I am a common person too. I also need a climate where it is easy to question the government.
It is the disparity of power between BJP and Congress that amazes me. One party has been in power for the last six years with a single party majority. The other doesn’t even have enough seats to win Leader of Opposition. But media is scared to pose questions to Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. Media is not scared to ask questions about PMCARES.
Imagine … just imagine… if the media could find a trust that was run by BJP’s top leadership and was getting money from PMNRF! Imagine how that story would be reported in our country.
The disparity of power blows my mind.
I have said this before in other spheres too. It’s not just media. Political parties behave the same way. When BJP had 90 seats in Bihar in 2013, Nitish Kumar dismissed them as if they were nothing. In fact, the alliance broke down because Nitish could not accept Narendra Modi as a bigger leader than he was. The Congress had just 4 seats in Bihar, but the Mahagathbandhan bowed down to Sonia Gandhi as Supreme Leader.
Somehow … be it Shiv Sena or JDU or JMM, they find it much easier to accept Sonia Gandhi as the leader. When it comes to BJP, they suddenly get all egoistic. Why? Some kind of deep seated inferiority complex that is impossible to describe in words. The Congress understands this and acts accordingly. The Gandhis carry about them an air of royalty. And somehow, the power elites keep feeling a sense of awe towards them.
One last thing. Stung by the revelations, the Congress hit back yesterday after 3 days of trying. They came up with a list of 10 questions, apparently aimed to expose the links between China and RSS/BJP. I burst into laughter when I saw the questions. All the questions are about why X or Y went to China.
Millions of people go to China. That doesn’t establish a “link” with China. Suffice to say that Congress failed to find any suspicious transactions. They must have tried very very hard. So it seems there aren’t any. And that is good to know. There is indeed a difference between the two parties.