New Delhi: On a day when Congress MP Rahul Gandhi returned to parliament, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey cited a report by the New York Times in the Lok Sabha to claim that the Congress leaders, including Gandhi, and news organisation NewsClick had received funds from China to create an “anti-India” atmosphere.
The article was published on Saturday, August 5.
“Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Nafrat ki Dukaan‘ (shop of hate) has Chinese ‘samaan’ (goods),” said Dubey, when the acting chairman Kirit Premjibhai Solanki was giving the floor to the ministers for laying the papers.
“I want to raise a serious issue,” Dubey said, adding that a news article in the New York Times said that Rs 38 crore has been received by NewsClick.
“The story has also mentioned the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids on NewsClick in 2021,” he said.
राहुल की नफ़रत की दुकान चायनीज समान से भरी हुई है । कॉंग्रेस पार्टी की नीति चीन के साथ मिलकर भारत तोड़ने की है। कॉंग्रेस पार्टी के चीन के फ़ंडिंग की जाँच भारत सरकार के चुनाव आयोग को करके कॉंग्रेस की दुकान बंद करनी चाहिए pic.twitter.com/hAvAHSxUBr
— Dr Nishikant Dubey (@nishikant_dubey) August 7, 2023
In February 2021, ED conducted raids on the residences of several officials and journalists associated with NewsClick, including owner Prabir Purkayastha and editor Pranjal Pandey.
The raids were allegedly linked to a probe related to foreign remittances and charges of money laundering.
Dubey said that NewsClick is part of an “anti-India gang, Tukde Tukde gang” that wants to break India.
He alleged that NewsClick and its owner are helping these forces, and [that] the money has been given to Naxalites and to journalists like Rohini Singh and Swati Chaturvedi to “create an atmosphere against India” for which “they have been given Chinese money”, he said.
He added that the Congress received money from China between 2005 and 2014.
“Between 2005 and 2014, whenever there was a crisis, the Congress had received money from China. In 2008, they invited Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. In 2017, they were talking to the Chinese during the Doklam crisis,” he said.
He also took the names of Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Randeep Surjewala and said they are associated with the Chinese.
“They (Congress) want to break India by using Chinese social media and journalists,” he said, adding that the Congress’s links with the Chinese need to be probed.
What is the NYT article about?
The New York Times article claims that an American millionaire, Neville Roy Singham, works closely with the Chinese government media machine to finance its propaganda worldwide.
“From a think tank in Massachusetts to an event space in Manhattan, from a political party in South Africa to news organisations in India and Brazil, The Times tracked hundreds of millions of dollars to groups linked to Mr. Singham that mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points,” the report said.
Referring to NewsClick, the article said that corporate filings show that Singham’s network “financed a news site, NewsClick, that sprinkled its coverage with Chinese government talking points.”
It refers to a video titled “China’s history continues to inspire the working classes” on NewsClick.
Purkayastha issued a statement on Monday evening, denying allegations that NewsClick was a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party.
“Over the past 12 hours, various false and misleading allegations have been levelled against Newsclick which pertain to matters that are currently sub judice before courts in India. We respect the sanctity of the legal process and do not intend to indulge in a media trial,” his statement reads.
It continues: “Newsclick is an independent news organisation, and any insinuation that we function as a mouth-piece of the Communist Party of China or other interests is false.”
“We reiterate our faith in the Indian Courts, and are confident that Newsclick has, and continues to function in accordance with Indian law.”
Purkayastha also referred to a decision by the Delhi high court granting interim protection from arrest to various NewsClick employees, and recalled a Delhi magistrate’s dismissal of a complaint by income tax authorities against NewsClick on account of lack of merit.
Names expunged from records
Chaturvedi and Singh said to The Wire that instead of making claims inside parliament using his parliamentary privileges, Dubey should try making these claims outside the house.
“As a parliamentarian, he should not be lying in parliament by using names who have never worked with NewsClick and have nothing to do with the New York Times story,” said Singh.
“The only reason he is doing this is because we have always countered him. I would urge him to repeat what he said inside the House outside parliament because there can be legal repercussions to whatever you say and there is no parliamentary privilege outside the House,” she added.
Chaturvedi shared a record of the Lok Sabha proceedings and that her name had been expunged.
The record also showed that along with her, Singh, Purkayastha and NewsClick’s names had also been removed from the records.
“Dubey has used his parliamentary privilege and he has taken my name in the House but I challenge anyone to show if I have ever taken even a penny from NewsClick. I have never contributed to them, never written for them and never even appeared on any of their videos,” said Chaturvedi.
“This is a BJP MP misusing my name. While my name has been expunged, this government has done everything it can to intimidate me and to silence me. This is another attempt to silence me but I will not be silenced and I will continue to do my work as a journalist,” she said.
After Dubey’s comments, the Lok Sabha was adjourned till 2 pm as opposition MPs protested in the House.
Allegations against Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader in the House, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, wrote a letter to the Speaker Om Birla and said that Dubey started levelling “libellous and defamatory charges against Rahul Gandhi, a member of the House, without having given any notice, let alone take the permission of the chair.”
The Congress demanded that Dubey’s statement against Gandhi be expunged from the record and an inquiry be conducted into how such an allegation was permitted to be raised on the record.
At a press conference later on Monday, Union ministers Anurag Thakur and Rajeev Chandrasekhar repeated their claims against the Congress MP.
“Congress, China and NewsClick are part of an umbilical cord. In Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Nakli Mohabbat Ki Dukaan’ Chinese goods can be seen clearly. His love for China can be seen. They have an anti-India agenda, and [they] ran a break India campaign,” said Thakur.
Chandrasekhar said that the narratives put forward by platforms like NewsClick are echoed by Gandhi.
“These narratives that are put out by platforms like NewsClick and other platforms that are operating in concert are echoed almost blandly in a similar fashion by this political leader, Rahul Gandhi, who goes abroad and says exactly the same things – democracy is under danger, judiciary is compromised, EVMs are compromised.”
“This is a complex conspiracy. This is a network of operators being funded, being fanned by vested interests outside the country, who are opposed to India’s rise, opposed to India’s presence in the global world,” he said.
In a statement, the Congress has refuted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s allegations and said that “PM Modi and his government are experts in one thing – lying.”
The party posed ten questions and dared the government to answer them, including Modi’s silence on Chinese encroachment, and when the status quo of April 2020 will be restored in Ladakh, as well as questions on how far China entered the official territory of India.