Cong says PM CARES Fund accepted Chinese donations, asks why Modi not calling China aggressor

New Delhi, Jun 28 (PTI) Hitting back at the BJP for raising the issue of funding to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, the Congress on Sunday alleged that Chinese firms were contributing to the PM Cares Fund and asked why it was accepting such donations when India and China have been engaged in a tense border standoff in Ladakh.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his '18 meetings' with Chinese President Xi Jinping in last six years and asked why he has not yet called China 'an aggressor', hours after Modi in his radio broadcast asserted that India has given a befitting reply to those who cast an evil eye on its territory in Ladakh.

'I implore the prime minister to say China is an aggressor,' Singhvi said.

'What is most worrying and alarming for national security is the fact of donations received by Prime Minister Modi from the Chinese companies in his (seemingly personal) PM CARES Fund,' Singhvi said a virtual press conference.

'If the Prime Minister of India will compromise his position by accepting donations of hundreds of crores from Chinese companies in the controversial and opaque fund, how will he defend the country against the Chinese aggression? Prime Minister Modi needs to answer,' he said.

The PM CARES Fund was set up in March this year with an objective to deal with any emergency arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, some opposition parties have demanded the donations received by the fund be made public.

Singhvi also alleged that the BJP has maintained ties with the Communist Party of China since 2007 and its presidents, starting with Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and Amit Shah, have had the maximum number of exchanges with China.

'There is no political party in India's history whose presidents have had so much contact with China in the last 13 years,' he claimed, adding Singh had interactions with the CPC in January 2007 and October 2008; Gadkari in January 2011 went on a five-day official visit to China; and Shah sent a large delegation of MLAs at a 'party school' gathering of CPC in early 2014.

Singhvi said for this government it seems national security is not important. 'What is important for it is 'I, Me, Myself' and the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.' The Congress spokesperson demanded that Modi should say 'China has intruded into Indian territory' and has occupied posts and land.

'The PM should say we are not going to compromise and we will push China back,' Singhvi said, adding the whole country, including the Opposition, will stand behind him if does so.

Paying tributes to the 20 Army men killed in the violent faceoff with China's People's Liberation Army on June 15 in eastern Ladakh, Modi in his radio broadcast said India's brave soldiers showed they will not allow the nation's pride to be hurt.

'Those who cast an evil eye on Indian soil in Ladakh have got a befitting response. India honours the spirit of friendship. It is also capable of giving an appropriate response to any adversary without shying away,' the prime minister said, without naming China.

The Congress has been accusing the prime minister of 'misleading' the country on Chinese incursions and the border stand-off in Ladakh, citing experts who say China has occupied Indian territory and posts. On the other hand, the BJP has turned the heat on Congress by accusing it of receiving money in the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, of which Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson, from China.

Coming back to the PM CARES Fund, Singhvi said reports suggest the fund has received Rs 9,678 crore by May 20. He did not specify any report.

'The shocking part is that though Chinese forces have transgressed into our territory, Prime Minister has received money in the Fund from Chinese companies... Will Prime Minister answer why has he received Chinese money into the Fund despite the overt Chinese hostilities in the year 2013,' Singhvi asked.

He alleged Huawei has donated Rs 7 crore, TikTok Rs 30 crore, Paytm Rs 100 crore, Xiomi Rs 15 crore and Oppo Rs 1 crore to the controversial fund.

'Does Huawei have a direct connection with People's Liberation Army, China? Has the Chinese company owning TikTok facilitated a donation of Rs 30 crore to the controversial PM CARES Fund,' he asked.

Singhvi also alleged that money has been diverted from PM CARES Fund, noting that no one knows how it is controlled or money given to it is utilized.

'The fund is not even subjected to audit by any public authority including CAG,' he said, adding that the PMO has gone to the extent of saying this fund is not a public authority.

PM CARES Fund is not even subjected to RTI, he said alleging that the fund 'appears to be solely run by the prime minister in an opaque and secret fashion with zero transparency and zero accountability'. PTI SKC ABH ABH