Days after Sonia Gandhi wrote to NGO heads sponsored by American spy agency CIA's front Ford Foundation, whom she had accommodated in the extra-constitutional National Advisory Council to dictate terms to the UPA government, inviting them to be part of the Indian National Congress's (INC) "Bharat Jodo Yatra" — its biggest mass contact programme in recent times — beginning 7 September, senior leader Rahul Gandhi today met several beneficiaries of foreign funds and delivered to them once again the reach-out message. Among those who attended the meeting were Aruna Roy and Yogendra Yadav.
Aruna Roy is the former boss of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, a fellow Ford Foundation beneficiary. Kejriwal received the Ramon Magsaysay Award after he was promoted by National Advisory Council’s Aruna Roy following the citation of his work by the World Bank. Documents of the CIA show its links with the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation. The papers show how these foundations financially support intellectuals, students and activists across the world through mutual coordination. Our focus is on the AAP.
The World Bank featured the insignificant work of Parivartan in their report, “Social Accountability Stocktaking Exercise for South and East Asia” [World Bank Institute, Washington DC, 2005, pages 30-32]. Kejriwal was selected for the Ramon Magsaysay Award only after featuring in the World Bank report above. Narayana Murthy, the Infosys chief, is a Trustee of the Ford Foundation. He apparently advocated Kejriwal’s case for the award, as did Aruna Roy.
Kejriwal and his present deputy Manish Sisodia both assisted Aruna Roy when she headed the NAC.
Yogendra Yadav was once a political adviser to Rahul Gandhi. He had worked with the NAC too — for the Right to Education Act. Yadav was funded by the ICSSR of the Jawaharlal University, which received $ 350,000 from the Ford Foundation.
The NAC was the brain behind many of the leftist rights-based legislation of the UPA government. But its ties with a section of this cabal had turned frosty in the wake of the Anna Hazare movement.
The outreach by the party hence is interesting. In 2019, Yadav had said that the INC needs to die so that the way for new politics may be cleared. Rahul joined the interaction in the afternoon after senior leader Digvijaya Singh gave a detailed presentation on the 3,500-km yatra to the civil society groups.
Sources said a section of the foreign-funded NGOs was apprehensive about joining a political programme but nevertheless decided to broadly engage with the yatra in various forms. "The participant organisations welcomed the decision of the yatra and expressed their willingness to engage with it. It was decided that an appeal will be issued for larger engagement of various civil society groups, jan andolans (people's movements) and individuals," a statement issued by organisations said.
"There is a consensus that we welcome this Bharat Jodo Yatra because this is the need of the hour. We have agreed to engage with it. Engagement can take many forms. In some cases, engagement can be that someone would walk right from the beginning till the end… someone will walk for one day, someone would go and welcome, someone would extend support… forms will vary but we have agreed to engage with this yatra in a positive spirit," Yadav said after the interaction, during which Rahul was asked many tough questions.
Rahul, sources said, told them politics was completely polarised now between the "divisive agenda" of the RSS/BJP on one side and the "unifying message" of the INC on the other. He asked the civil society groups to relook at its ties with the INC.
In July, The INC had officially appealed to like-minded political parties, foreign-funded NGOs — whom the media refers to fashionably as "civil society — business and professional associations to join the Kanyakumari to Kashmir yatra. But none of the parties had shown interest. After the public appeal, sources said Singh handed over a letter from Sonia to Yadav and others, formally inviting them to be part of the yatra.
The civil society groups then met on August 20 to discuss the INC proposal.
AICC general secretary in charge of communication Jairam Ramesh said some 150 civil society representatives participated in the interaction with Rahul, who told them that the yatra would be rooted in three fundamental pillars — economic, social and political.
The INC will unveil the logo, tagline of the yatra and a dedicated website tomorrow.