Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah has alleged corruption in buying medical supplies to be used in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Congress leader alleged the fraud by the BJP government in the state runs over Rs 2,000 crore.
Several departments are running the fraud in total secrecy, Siddaramaiah alleged. In a series of tweets, he demanded the centre should make the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations or PM CARES Fund more transparent, and both the centre and the state government should release a white paper on it.
"@CMofKarnataka has procured medical supplies at double the actual market cost. Close to Rs 2,200 Cr has been misappropriated by various departments in their #Covid19 management efforts. There has to be a detailed investigation into this," Siddaramaiah tweeted.
"The departments are working in secrecy. The data are not disclosed even when I, as Leader of Opposition, submit the request. Govt has to release white paper with regards to #Covid19 management to ensure transparency & accountability," the Congress leader tweeted.
About 60,000 Cr is collected in PM Cares Fund. But only 3,200 Cr is spent by @PMOIndia. What happened to the rest of the money? How much of the spent money has helped Karnataka? Only a detailed white paper by both the govts can answer!!— Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) July 3, 2020
The Congress leader's allegations come a day after the number of coronavirus cases in Karnataka has crossed the 18,000-mark. The state has reported 272 deaths; 8,334 have recovered.
The BJP has demanded an apology from Siddaramaiah for making "baseless allegations".
"In the last one year as opposition leader, Siddaramaiah has devoted most of his time for making disparaging remarks against the Prime Minister and using foulest language on many issues irresponsibly. In the present COVID-19 crisis, his charge that the BJP government has misused Rs 2,000 crore is highly irresponsible and made without any shred of evidence to justify his allegations. As the opposition leader it is his foremost responsibility to present evidential papers to justify his serious charges. If he doesn't, he should apologise," BJP spokesperson S Prakash said.
The PM CARES Fund, like the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, is exempted under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened. The centre says this enables PM CARES Fund to accept donations and contributions from people and organisations based in foreign countries, "consistent with respect to Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). PMNRF has also received foreign contributions as a public trust since 2011."
However, the opposition has alleged that the PM CARES Fund is not transparent and the spending is much less than the sum total of donations.