- Unnecessary targeting of PM-CARES fund done, Ravi Shankar Prasad says
- He says Rahul Gandhi has been making statements to weaken the country
- PM-CARES, the minister asserted, was "transparent and corruption-free"
After the Supreme Court today refused to order the transfer of PM-CARES funds for Covid relief to the National Disaster Response Fund, the ruling BJP hit out at the Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi, saying he had "tried to pull down" the government in its fight against coronavirus since Day 1.
"Transparency is writ large in PM-CARES Fund both in terms of legal requirement and transparent management of funds received on a voluntary basis... Unnecessary targeting of the PM-CARES fund has been done in the high court and in the Supreme Court," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
"Rahul Gandhi has been doing this based on what his advisors. Rahul Gandhi has continuously been making statements to weaken the country on multiple fronts. Rahul Gandhi has left no stone unturned to weaken the country's resolve in the fight against Coronavirus," he charged.
The Supreme Court this morning rejected a petition that said the government should be directed to transfer contributions made to PM-CARES for Covid to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). The court said funds collected by the PM-CARES fund are those of charitable trusts and "entirely different".
The Congress called the court decision a "body blow to transparency and accountability" of the government to the people. "The Supreme Court scrupulously believed that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant'. Today, the court, in a departure from that tradition, passed up an opportunity to demand answers on the PM-CARES fund that seeks public money but plays by its own opaque and murky rules," said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
Ravi Shankar Prasad said the judgment made it clear that the law had been followed in running the PM-CARES fund, which, he said, has contributed Rs 3,100 crore to the fight against coronavirus.
"Let me make it clear that the break-up of the Rs 3,100 crore is Rs 2,000 crore towards ventilators, Rs 1,000 crore towards migrants, and Rs 100 crore towards vaccine development," Mr Prasad said.
PM-CARES, the minister asserted, was "transparent and corruption-free", drawing comparisons with the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
"Like I said this is the Modi government. We do things properly. PM-CARES is a trust and all the trustees are public, audits are done and all information is available on its website for everyone to see. It is a transparent fund, unlike the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation which used to have a budgetary provision for contribution towards the private, family-run fund. It is not like how NDRF had transferred money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation," he said.
The minister also addressed questions a separate fund when the PM's National Relief Fund was already in place. "The PM NRF was formed in 1948, and was meant to help refugees who were coming to India and was also for disaster management. But the PM-CARES is a registered trust and is dedicated towards COVID-19. These are two different things," Mr Prasad said.
Mr Prasad said the PM-CARES fund had been used to buy 50,000 ventilators for coronavirus patients and it "is the highest since independence as far as ventilator provision is concerned".
BJP chief JP Nadda called the Supreme Court verdict a "resounding blow to the nefarious designs of Rahul Gandhi".