Days after the PMO informed the Delhi High Court that the PM CARES Fund was not a Government of India fund and its amount does not go to the Consolidated Fund of India, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee slammed the Centre and asked where that money was, PTI reported on Friday, 24 September.
""The Chief Minister Relief Fund is regularly audited. PM CARES fund was formed for COVID-19, but yesterday they (Centre) told the court that it is not a government fund. Government employees have donated money there, funds through CSR have been donated there, lakhs of crores of rupees have been donated. So where is that money?"" - Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal Chief Minister
Mamata Banerjee said the central government's statement that the PM CARES Fund, which bears the national emblem of the country, is not a government fund has confused everyone, reported PTI.
Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, an undersecretary at the PMO, who also functions in the PM CARES trust on an honorary basis, had earlier informed the Delhi High Court of the same through an affidavit filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution in order to ensure transparency in its functioning.
The Centre had said that "no third party information can be parted with irrespective of its status under the Constitution and the Right to Information (RTI) Act".
Srivastava also claimed that the trust functions with transparency, while its funds are audited by an auditor, a chartered accountant from a panel set by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).
Banerjee also attacked the government over the Pegasus scandal.
"It has been proven that the Union government snoops on opposition leaders; our phones are tapped. The Centre bought this software from Israel to snoop on us. No one can speak out against them. If you speak out, efforts will be made to intimidate you by using (central) agencies," she said.
The Trinamool boss further criticised the state unit of the BJP for staging a protest near her residence on Thursday, 23 September, carrying the body of a BJP worker.
"Yesterday, BJP leaders staged a protest outside my residence over the death of a BJP worker. That BJP worker died a natural death, and they are claiming that he died during the violence. We won't tolerate such hooliganism. If they think they can protest outside my residence with a dead body, we, too, can do the same outside their homes with the carcass of a dog. We can teach them a lesson in the language they understand," she said, as per PTI.
Banerjee will be contesting the Bhabanipur by-poll, which will take place on 30 September 30. Banerjee, who had failed to win the Nandigram seat in the April-May election, must win the bypoll to remain CM.
"People want me to be a representative from this seat and continue as the state's chief minister," she said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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