New Delhi September 16th
Attacking the government over the coronavirus crisis during a discussion in parliament, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien today mocked the PM-CARES fund as “PM’s Couldn’t-Care-Less fund” and said the centre “needs humility” to work with states.
“This government needs humility to work with states to fight Covid-19. You must not use pandemic to convert democracy into an autocracy,” the Trinamool member said in the Rajya Sabha, during a discussion on the Covid pandemic.
Mr O’Brien said the government had announced a 21-day lockdown with just four-hour notice and “no preparation”. He also alleged that the centre did not take state governments into confidence while making decisions on the virus outbreak.
At one point, he quipped – “The most opaque, dark fund in the world. It is called the Prime Minister’s Couldn’t-Care-Less Fund” and then added, “Oh I said the name wrong, OK!”
PM-CARES or the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund was set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March to “deal with emergency or distress situations like the coronavirus pandemic”. It is managed by a trust with PM Modi as its chairperson and senior cabinet members as trustees.
The opposition has repeatedly demanded an audit of the fund, saying it lacks accountability and transparency.
Mr O’Brien also hit out at Union Health Minister’s statement in parliament yesterday.
Minister Harsh Vardhan, thanking PM Modi, said the nationwide lockdown, community involvement and other step prevented up to 38,000 deaths and 29 lakh COVID-19 cases in the country. He also said that government efforts have been able to limit coronavirus numbers to 3,328 cases and 55 deaths per million population, which is one of the lowest in the world.