New Delhi: Trinamool Congress MP from Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on the Modi government over the COVID-19 crisis. During a discussion in Parliament, O’Brien termed the PM-CARES fund as “PM’s Couldn’t-Care-Less fund” and said the Centre “needs humility” to work with state governments. Also Read - 'Rajya Sabha Footage Shreds Government’s Version', Oppn Comes Down Heavily on Govt; Dy Chairman Issues Clarification
“This government needs humility to work with states to fight coronavirus. You must not use the pandemic to convert a democracy into an autocracy,” the Trinamool MP said in the Rajya Sabha. Also Read - Parliament Adjourns Sine Die, Monsoon Session Cut Short by Eight Days Over Coronavirus Concerns
He also questioned the government over its preparations to fight the virus. “What preparation was done by this government? When we from Trinamool on March 18 came to Parliament wearing masks, what happened? Five of us MPs were asked to leave the House,” he alleged. Also Read - Monsoon Session Updates: Congress Leader Ghulam Nabi Azad Meets President Kovind to Discuss Farm Bills
The TMC leader alleged that instead of according priority to fighting the COVID pandemic, the Centre was busy preparing for the welcome of US President Donald Trump. “You didn’t do any preparation, no preparation (for fighting the virus). You did preparation when Trump came. What were you doing then? You were giving Trump laddus. You were giving him Dhokla. I don’t know what else were you giving him? But that is the time when you announced this lockdown,” he said.
O’Brien said the government had announced a 21-day lockdown with just four-hour notice and “no preparation” at hand.
He also alleged that the Centre did not take state governments into confidence while making decisions on the virus outbreak. “You said you spoke to chief ministers. I challenge you. What did you write to Chief Ministers before the lockdown? Not one meeting…you said you had 45 video conferences. How many of those video conferences were before the lockdown?,” he asked.
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!”
The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations or PM CARES Fund was set up by PM 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.There has been repeated demand from opposition for an audit of the fund, alleging lack of accountability and transparency.