Cong, govt spar in Lok Sabha over donations to PM Cares Fund

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) The Congress and the government traded barbs in Lok Sabha on Monday over donations to the PM Cares Fund, with the opposition party alleging that LIC gave money to the corpus instead of providing benefits to people and union minister Anurag Thakur hitting back at it over the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation accepting funds from China.

During the Question Hour, acting Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Ravneet Singh said migrant labourers and the poor suffered during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

'They did not get the benefits they should have got. LIC gave its funds only to PM Cares. Why is it so?' Bittu alleged and asked the minister not to give a 'political answer'.

Speaker Om Birla told Singh that if he asks a political question, he ought to get a political reply.

Replying to Singh, Thakur, who is the minister of state in the finance ministry, said during the lockdown, migrant labourers faced hardships while returning home.

Thakur listed out the steps taken by the government to give relief to migrant workers during the lockdown.

'There were instances where someone donated the entire pension amount to PM Cares Fund. Even those who got wages through MNREGA scheme also donated money to the PM Cares Fund just to help others,' Thakur said.

The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was established in March last year 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.

Several public sector undertakings (PSUs), government employees contributed money to the fund.

The money was also used for various coronavirus-related initiatives, the minister said.

'But there is one family in the country who created the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and did the job of filling their accounts. Through the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, these people did not give priority to even the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund,' Thakur said.

'This party (Congress) did the job of filling (the accounts) of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. They feel the pinch because their account has now been closed. Rajiv Gandhi Foundation also took money from China,' Thakur said.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was present in the House during that time.

Thakur said several accounts were created under the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation through which money was taken from different PSUs. The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation is headed by interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi. According to RGF website, it also has Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as its members. PTI PR SMN