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'Never Missed Chance to Weaken Covid-19 Fight': Centre Reminds RaGa of 'PM Fund Diversion' After SC Relief

Combination photo of Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rahul Gandhi

Combination photo of Ravi Shankar Prasad and Rahul Gandhi

The Supreme Court has refused to direct the Centre to transfer the contributions made to the PM CARES Fund for battling the Covid-19 pandemic to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).

Criticising Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for raising questions over the PM CARES Fund, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday alleged that money from the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) was given to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in power.

"Rahul Gandhi questioned PM Cares Fund but the Supreme Court has shot down all his arguments. PM CARES is a registered public trust for Covid-like emergencies. Gandhi has never missed an opportunity to weaken the resolve of the nation in its fight against the virus," said Prasad, adding that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is an honest government.

The BJP recently released documents it claimed were proof that during the Manmohan Singh era, money from the Prime Minister's relief fund was diverted and donated to the Rajiv Gandhi foundation. Sonia Gandhi is chief of the foundation and the board includes Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, P Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh.

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Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to order transfer of money from the PM Cares Fund to the NDRF saying both are entirely different kinds of donations.

BJP President JP Nadda described the decision as a "resounding blow to the nefarious designs" of Gandhi and his "band of rent a cause" activists.

"The verdict by the Supreme Court on PM CARES is a resounding blow to the nefarious designs of Rahul Gandhi & his band of 'rent a cause' activists. It shows that the truth shines despite the ill intent and malicious efforts of the Congress party and its associates," Nadda tweeted. He said Gandhi's "rants" have been repeatedly dismissed by the common man who has "overwhelmingly" contributed to the PM CARES fund.

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan held that PM Cares Fund are about voluntarily donations to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and the budgetary allocations are in the form of a public trust.

On the other hand, NDRF is a statutorily created fund, which has nothing to do with the PM Cares Fund, noted the court. It added that people are free to make donations in either of the two, and that the government, in its discretion, can also transfer money from PM Cares to NDRF.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi asked if the Gandhi family will apologise to the nation for misleading people.

"Another blow to the nefarious designs of the Gandhi family with the Supreme Court upholding the validity of the PM CARES Fund. Will the Gandhi scion apologise to the nation for misleading people?," Joshi tweeted.

Reacting to the verdict, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "The SC judgment is a body blow to transparency & accountability of Govt to people. It marks a sad letter day for responsibility & answerability of rulers to the electorate and remind them that they are not 'Monarchs' but 'servants of the people'."

"SC 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 #PMCaresFund that seeks public money but plays by its own opaque & murky rules," he said in another tweet.

In March, the Centre set up the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emergency situation like the one currently posed by the Covid-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected.

(With inputs from agencies)