Why is Congress opposing PMCares and batting for PMNRF? Party is paramount not the poor

    09-Apr-2020   
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The fact that people with domain expertise and only government people without any political representation will manage the PM Cares fund has not gone well with the Congress which is obsessed by the Dynasty and concept of “High Command” rather than inclusive participation.



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Copy of Sonia Gandhi's letter to PM Modi demanding transferring money under PM Cares to the PMNRF
 
 
Corona virus couldn’t have hit the world at a worse time than this. When there was a global economic slowdown and most major economies of the world were struggling when the worst pandemic of the century emerged. Leaders like British Premier Boris Johnson and POTUS Trump would not be spared for casual handling of the crisis in their respective countries. At the same time, the leadership of Singapore Premier Lee Loong and South Korean President Moon will be hailed globally for instituting timely measures to prevent spread of the deadly virus in their respective countries. The leadership in such hours of crisis matters a lot. India is fortunate to have a dedicated and visionary leader like NarendraModi at the helms.
 
While the South Korean Model of aggressive and maximum testing has proved successful, the world is also studying and appreciating the Indian model wherein a densely and overpopulated nation like India with very limited resources and a not very advanced health infra structure has been able to control the spread of the pandemic so far as compared to the spread of ratio in advanced countries like the US and West European countries. The credit goes to the vast majority of Indian populace which strictly followed the advisories issued by the government and responded unitedly to various calls given by the nation’s Prime Minister.
 
The country has not only accepted the leadership of NarendraModi but is standing solidly behind him to ensure that the nation wins its fight against Corona. The collective will of the people is yielding results. But for the unfortunate and irresponsible TablighiJamat episode, things would have been entirely different. None the less even now India is being watched globally and the data points towards a successful India model.
 
Overruling the naysayers, Modi has said, “Jaanhai to Jahanhai” (Health is Wealth). He is not getting carried away by those who are warning him of the impending economic recession. Not that he or his government is not worried. He is simultaneously addressing the issue while giving overriding preference to human lives. The PM has come out with brilliant ideas both economically and socially to ensure that the chain of Corona virus is broken and the nation is spared of the horror if the pandemic enters the third stage. The government has announced various economic measures to cater for the unorganised and organised sectors. The critics may term it too less but the government’s response is dynamic with day to day monitoring and long term planning.
 
On the social front, Modi wants the nation to fight the crisis together. Ensuring cohesion, avoiding boredom and stress due to prolonged lockdown, keeping the fear away and appreciating the Corona Warriors, has been the major focus of the Prime Minister to ensure that the nation’s resolve does not dither. A focussed fund to supplement the monetary requirements through a voluntary donation by the citizens has also been launched by called PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund). The fund is the latest bone of contention between PM and the Opposition led by Congress.  
 
A focussed fund to supplement the monetary requirements through a voluntary donation by the citizens has also been launched by called PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund). The fund is the latest bone of contention between PM and the Opposition led by Congress.  
 
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In such an hour of crisis, the Opposition has a major role to play by keeping the government on its toes to ensure that it does not lose the focus. Unfortunately, Sonia led Congress is doing exactly the opposite. Not able to digest the growing popularity of Modi amidst the crisis, Congress has resorted to oppose every action of the government without any constructive suggestions. Starting with the timing of the lockdown, handling of migrant labour, economic package, social measures like clapping and 9 pm candle lighting and PM Cares Fund, Rahul & Sonia Gandhi have been continuously criticising the Government just for the sake of criticism without suggesting any constructive and workable alternatives. Jeering rather than opposing appears to be the motive of various statements issued by these two leaders and seconded by their followers.
 
The latest in the series is a 5-point letter written by Sonia Gandhi to the PM purportedly recommending cutting down expenditure for saving money to fight the Corona. But the letter is a classic example of “EkTeer Do Nishana” (Killing two words with one stone). Every point in the letter is a personal jeer at the Prime Minister and include issues like government advertisements, foreign travel, central vista beautification, reduction in expenditure budget, PM Cares Fund. In other words, it is an attempt to find fault with Prime Minister’s “Corona Strategy” with the ultimate motive of questioning the need for a separate fund when the 1948 Nehru formed PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF) exists. 
 
Sonia Gandhi demands ‘better transparency, accountability and efficiency’ in her letter. Not many know that a trust does not manage PMNRF unlike the PM Cares Fund but a management committee that apart from the PM has the President of Indian National Congress as its member.   
 
Despite the fact that in order to maintain transparency and financial propriety the government set up a public charitable trust with a clear cut constitution and unambiguous objectives and clarifying that while the PMNRF cater largely for disaster relief, PM CARES fund is a focussed fund with a primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation like posed by Covid-19 pandemic. PMNRF was initially established to assist displaced persons from Pakistan through public contributions. Assistance from PMNRF is also rendered to partially defray the expenses for medical treatment like heart surgeries, kidney transplantation, cancer treatment, acid attack etc. However, with the launch of revolutionary PM AyushmanYojana, such needs would be minimised.
  
Now let’s see whether Sonia’s demand of transferring all the donations in PM Cares Fund (approx 65 crore so far) to PMNRF has anything to do with austerity measures to fight Corona virus or on the other hand it is aimed putting spokes in the wheel to hamper timely relief measures? According to her, she demands ‘better transparency, accountability and efficiency’. Not many know that a trust does not manage PMNRF unlike the PM Cares Fund but a management committee that apart from the PM has the President of Indian National Congress as its member. The point to be noted is that irrespective of the party in power and strength of the Congress party in Parliament the Congress President would form part of the management committee. Is this transparency because for the majority of the time since its inception, Congress has been the ruling party and the ‘Dynasty’ controlling it. Though PMNRF has also been declared a ‘deemed trust’, it does not have any guidelines to follow and operate. Moreover, it has functioned ever since without a title deed. 
 
Whether Sonia Gandhi’s demand of transferring all the donations in PM Cares Fund to PMNRF has anything to do with austerity measures to fight Corona virus or is it aimed putting spokes in the wheel to hamper timely relief measures?
 
On the other hand, to ensure accountability and transparency, the trust managing the PM Cares Fund does not have any political representation but all government functionaries and ministers. Modi could also have included the BJP National President in the trust but unlike Congress, BJP has always upheld the credo of “Nation First.” There was a time when Rajiv Gandhi had given control of the PMNRF of solely to the Prime Minister. It does not behove good for his wife and the interim President of Congress Sonia Gandhi to question the transparency and accountability of the newly created PM Cares Fund. It suffices to say that PM Cares Fund is far more adequate and transparent than the PMNRF except that it has hurt the bloated ego of Sonia Gandhi whose sole aim is to install her son Rahul Gandhi in the chair of Indian Prime Minster through hook and crook so that he Dynasty can have control over the PMNRF like the Young Indian.
 
Why did Nehru in a purely government fund PMNRF include the president of his own political party as a member of the management committee? The result of his farsightedness can be seen from the fact that PM Modi cannot spend a penny from the PMNRF without the approval of a member of the Nehru family, namely Sonia Gandhi. To undo Nehru’s love for the dynasty and supremacy of Congress in managing the fund, PM Modi had to come out with an idea wherein the entire management of the fund is in the hands of members of the government with no political representation at all. Whenever there is a change in the government the next government can use the fund without any political interference. But Sonia and the Congress is unhappy because the PM Cares fund also has 13 eminent experts to undertake relief or assistance of any kind relating to public health emergencies. There is also a provision for 10- member advisory board to be selected by the trustees. What better transparency, accountability and efficiency Sonia is asking for?
 
Just because the Congress president has found no place in it, does PM Cares Fund become discretionary and opaque? The fact that people with domain expertise and only government people without any political representation will manage the fund has not gone well with the Congress which is obsessed by the Dynasty and concept of “High Command” rather than inclusive participation. 
 
(The writer is a Jammu based political commentator and a columnist)