Thursday, August 11th, 2022 05:59:06

Congress’ Optics Won’t Work anymore

By Sudesh Verma
Updated: August 29, 2020 2:24 pm

Like on many other occasions, the Congress has once again eggs on its face after the Supreme Court verdict on a PIL that sought CAG audit of PM CARES Fund and transfer of that money into Disaster Relief Fund. The party was jumping with joy that it had caught Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the wrong feet. The PIL petitioner was dejected like he has been on many occasions but the dejection was more pronounced in the Congress camp.

This only goes on to prove that chicanery would not work in politics. While a a watchful and vibrant social media ensures full accountability peeling layers after layers of every action taken, a watchful and vigilant judiciary ensures that justice was not clouded by the optics created. The cacophony created by the Congress sound like the distant drumbeats from empty vessels.

What did the Supreme Court s say? It held that money in the PM-CARES Fund could not be transferred to National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). The court said that the allegations that rules were tweaked to favour PM CARES Fund over NDRF were “wholly misconceived and incorrect”. Individuals and corporate could continue to donate to NDRF under the existing provisions, the court pointed out. the petitioner had alleged that after the new guidelines it was not possible for any individual or institution to contribute to NDRF.

On the aspect of CAG scrutiny of PM CARES Fund, the Court held that since it was a public charitable Trust and not funded by the Government unlike the NDRF, which was a Statutory body set up by an Act of Parliament, CAG audit was not warranted. This means an audit similar to line of any other public charitable Trust would be sufficient.

The PM CARES Fund (the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation) was set up on 28 March 2020 with the exclusive purpose of dealing with COVID-19 Pandemic. This was a Special Purpose Vehicle to deal with an unprecedented situation. Appealing people to contribute to tide over the situation made sense. This SPV is considered more focused, accountable and trustworthy way to demonstrate the government’s seriousness.

As BJP President, Mr JP Nadda, rightly said this was a great example of revitalizing the trust of the public at large in government. “From celebrities to the common people and from divyang to small children, the unprecedented response has seen few parallels in the history of independent India”, he pointed out.

This in itself tried to place great responsibility on the shoulders of the Government. The Prime Minister has been updating people about the feats achieved through their contributions. The PM CARES Fund has allocated Rs 3,100 crore for India’s fight against COVID-19. It includes Rs 2,000 crore to buy 50,000 ventilators, Rs 1000 crore for help of migrant workers and Rs 100 crore to support vaccine development.

The Congress has been trying to defame this government in general and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular. That fact that these attempts are failing to cut any ice with the masses is making the Congress desperate. Even when Mr Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat they tried similar things. They could not do anything despite all the might of the then UPA government they unleashed on Modi-Shah duo. The Modi juggernaut continues unabated.

Every time they wallow in the believe that they have got something to clutch on to they have been forced to bite the dust. The various corruption allegations against then chief minister Modi came a cropper. The various manufactured allegations and concocted lies have failed to deter the Prime Minister. Rafael was a testimony that the Congress either picked up rumour from the loose talks at India International Centre (Khan Market gang) that has many Ostrich like creatures that duck when confronted with facts but become garrulous after the spirit is high. Rahul Gandhi subscribes to their thought process to give wings to his national aspirations. It is also quite possible that he was batting for someone else as it suited his politics on the eve of 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

But when Congress raises certain issues it must answer a few questions for people to trust them. PM CARES Fund can be at the best compared with PM NRF (Prime Minister National Relief Fund) that was founded on similar line in 1948 by then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to help refugees and riot victims during and after the Partition.

While PM CARES has made Prime Minister as Ex-officio Chairman and Ministers of Home, Defence and Finance as Ex-officio Trustees, how could a Trust formed by the Government (PM NRF) have Congress President in the Managing Committee. In 1985, the Prime Minister became the sole arbiter of the Fund. Was it not a Congress way to manipulate fund till 1985.

The Congress has done chicanery of the worst sort by getting money transferred from the PM NRF to the RGF (Rajiv Gandhi Foundation). Money donated by people to PM NRF was diverted to family owned Trust. There was not just the issue of Conflict of Interest, but the issue of corruption, loot of public money and financial impropriety by then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh who ran the PM NRF and other ministers who were on the board of the RGF then.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi by virtue of being the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was influencing decisions by the Union Government and the Prime Minister. She was also Chairperson of the RGF. The RGF received Funds from PM NRF for three consecutive years from 2005-2006, 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. Many PSUs were also donating to RGF including LIC, SBI, IDBI Bank, ONGC, Bank of Maharashtra. Fraudster Mehul Chowksi, who ran away, also donated. This means RGF was running as a front to amass money for grant of favour.

Dr Manmohan Singh had once said that Caeser’s wife has to be above suspicion. Here Caeser’s wife was committing adultery in full knowledge of everyone. Dr Manmohan Singh and his minister P Chidambaram were trustees of the RGF along with Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi (now Vadra) set up in June 1991. Sonia Gandhi is the chairperson.

Now coming to appointment of SARC & Associates to audit the PM CARES Fund. It is alleged that its founder Sunil Kumar Gupta is close to BJP. It is the same firm that has been auditing the PM CARES Fund. In public life if one shared dais with someone or supports the government’s initiative one does not invite conflict of interests. By that count most people in this country would be ineligible to do anything with the government.

Let us try to see what the Congress did? PM NRF had the same auditor for five decades till 2017-18. It had appointed Vaidyanathan and Aiyar Company as the auditor. This company was run by Rameshwar Thakur who became two time member of Rajya Sabha (April 1984 to March 1990 and again from April 1990 to March 1996) and Governor of four States. He was also Union Minister of State for Finance (Revenue) Rural Development and Parliamentary Affairs from June 1991 to December 1994.

So money was allotted to RGF by a Congress run Central Government to Congress president run NGO and audited by a Congressman. This is a classic case of corruption, manipulation and fraud that the country witnessed. Let us not forget that Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister and the sole arbiter to decide fund allocation from PMNRF. He was also a member Trustee of the RGF. Do we need to say more.


By Sudesh Verma

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