New Delhi, Aug 18 (PTI) The Supreme Court decision on the PM CARES Fund evoked contrasting reactions from the BJP and the Congress on Tuesday, with the ruling party hailing it as a 'resounding blow to the nefarious designs' of Rahul Gandhi and the opposition party describing it as a 'body blow to transparency”.
The apex 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), saying both are entirely different funds with separate object and purpose.
'Transparency is writ large in the PM CARES Fund,' BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference, rubbishing the Congress' criticism on the issue.
Reacting to the judgement, BJP President J P Nadda said it was a 'resounding blow to the nefarious designs' of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his 'band of rent a cause' activists.
'The country very well knows that the orchestrated smear campaign against PM CARES is an attempt by the Congress to wash its sins,' he said.
Expressing disappointment over the verdict, Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the apex court let go an opportunity to bring in transparency in the fund, which has 'its own opaque and murky rules', and, thereby, deviated from the belief that 'sunlight is the best disinfectant'.
'The SC judgment is a body blow to transparency and accountability of government to people. It marks a sad letter day for responsibility and answerability of rulers to the electorate and remind them that they are not 'Monarchs' but 'servants of the people',' he said.
'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 PM Cares Fund that seeks public money but plays by its own opaque & murky rules,' he said in another tweet.
At a press briefing, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said the ruling was a 'jolt to all those people who are seeking transparency'.
'This is not Narendra Modi's money. This is not Narendra Modi’s individual fund; this is the Prime Minister's fund, meant for the people, who demand transparency. The people want to know -- where did you get the money from, where have you spent it?' he said.
The SC judgement came on a PIL filed by NGO 'Centre for Public Interest Litigation', seeking a direction that all the money collected under the PM CARES Fund for the COVID-19 pandemic be transferred to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said there is no statutory prohibition for the Centre on utilising the NDRF for providing assistance in the fight of COVID-19 in accordance with the guidelines issued for administration of the NDRF.
Targeting Gandhi and the Congress, Prasad told reporters that the apex court has destroyed the 'conspiracy' sponsored by them.
'Transparency is writ large in the PM CARES Fund both in the terms of legal requirement and the management of the fund received,' he said, adding that there is no corruption allegation against the Modi government in the six years of its rule so far.
The minister underscored that the fund will be audited, as he accused Gandhi of sparing no effort to weaken the country's resolve in its fight against COVID-19.
'The verdict by the Supreme Court on PM CARES is a resounding blow to the nefarious designs of Rahul Gandhi and 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.
Coming down heavily on Gandhi, the BJP chief said his 'rants' have been repeatedly dismissed by the common man who has 'overwhelmingly' contributed to the PM CARES Fund.
With the highest court also pronouncing its verdict, will Rahul and his 'rent a cause activist army' mend their ways or embarrass themselves further, he asked.
The BJP president alleged that the Gandhi family treated Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) as its 'personal fiefdom for decades and brazenly transferred citizens' hard-earned money from PMNRF to its family trusts'.
Gandhi had on Monday tweeted 'PM CARES for Right To Improbity' while tagging a news report which alleged that the Prime Minister's Office had denied an RTI application seeking information on the Fund.
Prasad said the PM CARES Fund is a registered public trust created to fight emergencies like the coronavirus and added it has so far contributed Rs 3,100 crore in the battle against the pandemic.
Out of this, Rs 2,000 crore was spent on procuring over 50 thousand ventilators, Rs 1,000 crore was given to states to help migrant labourers and Rs 100 crore for vaccine research, he said.
This is the highest number of ventilators made available for critical care in one go since independence, he said.
Hitting out at the Congress and the Gandhi family, he said foundations run by the family were donated money by the National Disaster Response Fund and from the Union budget during the UPA rule, while the PM CARES Fund has been used transparently.
The PM CARES fund was launched by the government after the COVID-19 outbreak.
Following the apex court judgment, a number of Union ministers and other BJP leaders also took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi. PTI KR SKC ASK RT RT