The Congress today hit out at the BJP citing a news report which alleged a “prospect of conflict of interest” in National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s son Shaurya running the ‘India Foundation’ think tank that has four Union ministers on its board, a charge rejected by the organisation as baseless. “Shah-zada ki apaar safalta ke baad, BJP ki nayi peshkash — Ajit Shaurya gatha (After the ‘grand success’ of ‘Shah- Zada’, BJP’s new presentation — the tale of Ajit Shaurya),” Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi. The report in ‘the Wire’, a news portal, alleged that Doval’s son has a “prospect of conflict of interest” in running the think-tank, India Foundation.
“The India Foundation’s opaque financials, the presence of senior ministers as directors and the fact that executive director Shaurya Doval’s day job is running Gemini Financial Services — a firm that specialises in ‘transactions and capital flows between the OECD and the emerging Asian economies’ — also raise the prospect of conflict of interest and lobbying,” the report alleged. In a statement, India Foundation said the article is without basis, and that the directors concerned have been associated with the organisation long before they became ministers or even Members of Parliament. “The article in question is speculative and clearly intends to insinuate wrong doing where there is none. It strikes a maleficent tone without any basis other than surmise.
The India foundation deplores the surmises and innuendos used to attack its legacy, reputation and credibility,” the statement said.
The organisation also denied receiving any foreign funding from any overseas private corporation or individual and said the foundation and its directors have not furthered the commercial or private interests of any company, domestic or foreign. “The agenda of its meetings are concerned with culture, geo-politics, and macro-economics such as the investment climate in India and development of the North East,” it said, adding the organisation is in complete compliance with all statutory requirements and its activities which are public and transparent, faithfully adhere to its charter.
Run by the NSA’s son and BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav, the India foundation lists among its directors defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and commerce and industry minister Suresh Prabhu, and two ministers of state — Jayant Sinha (civil aviation) and M J Akbar (external affairs). Addressing a press conference, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should fire the four Union ministers who are directors in the organisation and demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter. “Prime Minister Modi should fire all the four ministers who are on the board of the India Foundation. We want to ask Modiji when he will fire them…It is not only a direct conflict of interest but also they must be taking benefits because their position as directors so this may well be an office of profit,” Sibal said.
He also noted that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had resigned as chairman of the National Advisory Council and again contested elections after allegations of office of profit. Sibal also alleged that there cannot be more serious case of “crony capitalism, violation of rules and corruption then this one”. “And this is happening at the time when our Prime Minister Modi says ‘Na Khaunga, Na Khaane dunga’ (I will not engage in corruption, nor will I allow others),” Sibal added.