On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India dismissed a petition filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) demanding the transfer of funds from PM CARES Fund to the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF). The Supreme Court categorically ruled that the funds in PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations) are meant for charitable trust, with a purpose entirely different from that of the NDRF. Once again, the hypocrisy of the PIL lobby, that has often tried to bully the judiciary to adopt their twisted stances, has been called out. The lobby’s unjust and obstructionist stand, distant from arguments rooted in rationality and sound logic, has rightly been set aside for public welfare.
PM CARES Fund has proven to be a great example of revitalising the trust of the public at large in government, judging by the response to it. 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. The Narendra Modi government too, sensing the weight of the trust placed on it, has responded through its hallmark transparency by regularly updating the people of India all that has been made possible by their contributions. The PM CARES Fund allocated Rs 3,100 crore for India’s fight against COVID-19, of which Rs 2,000 crore helped to buy 50,000 ventilators. Another Rs 1,000 crore has been used for the care of migrant labourers and the balance Rs 100 crore was given to support vaccine development, which has reached the critical stage of trials.
The PIL lobby staffed and led by the ancien régime and the Khan Market Gang has been, of course, an inspiration to the likes of Rahul Gandhi, member of Parliament from Wayanad. He has only the choicest of bizarre allegations to hurl at anything and everything positive being attempted in India. Perhaps it stems from an underlying sense of sheer frustration of not matching to the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his connect with the people that challenges his sense of entitlement. That is the only sane reason that explains Rahul Gandhi’s opposition, clearly inspired by the puzzling position of the Khan Market Gang to the PM CARES Fund.
While Rahul Gandhi tries to muddy the waters by engaging in obfuscation of facts and clever-by-half arguments, it is time to remind him of the kind of underhanded dealings his own party has undertaken with national funds. The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was forced during the UPA government to transfer the public’s hard-earned, tax-paid donations to the private Rajiv Gandhi Foundation managed by the Gandhi family. Ironically, this was revealed on the RGF website. For that matter, there are other equally serious questions that Rahul Gandhi should answer. Why has the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, enriched by the largesse of successive Congress-led governments, refused to be audited by the CAG? Or why was the PMNRF audited by a firm of a life-long Congress politician during UPA years? Think about it. The PMNRF board had Sonia Gandhi as member. It was donating to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, whose chairman is Sonia Gandhi. And the PMNRF was audited by a Congress politician’s firm. It was as if the PMNRF during the UPA was a fund of the Congress, for the Congress and by the Congress.
Rahul Gandhi has a habit of playing Cassandra, which is increasingly visible from his irresponsible behaviour during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Using Goebbelsian tactics, he has engaged in a campaign of misinformation to spread fake news and mislead people about the pandemic response. Be it the question of the lockdown and its necessity, crying wolf about the status of COVID-19, or insinuating nefarious use of PM CARES Fund, Rahul Gandhi and his associates have been caught on the wrong foot multiple times. However, this has proven not to be a deterrent for the Wayanad MP, and his cesspit of toxic politics. Contrast his harmful narrative to the prime minister’s encouragement and acknowledgment of our COVID warriors, and it becomes evident just why Rahul Gandhi still has a long way to go.
Maybe Rahul Gandhi should realise that his politics of negativity fails to connect with the people, especially when they need hope and inspiration. While he is at it, he also needs to find new inspiration, given how he and his ideological mentors get discredited every day. The wobbly edifices of his politics stands hollow, credit entirely to his toxic politics of deceit. An Opposition is considered strong by the depth of its argument, and not the pitch, tone or medium of its delivery. It would serve Rahul Gandhi well to admit that he has made a mistake by trying to besmirch an honest effort by the people of India through PM CARES, and apologise to the people of India.
This article first appeared in the print edition on August 19, 2020 under the title ‘Endorsement of PM CARES’. The writer is national president, BJP