On April 7, Indian National Congress (INC) Chief Sonia Gandhi wrote to the Prime Minister suggesting five points of advice to generate financial resources to battle the economic fallout of COVID-19 pandemic which included “urging the centre to transfer all money under PM CARES Fund to the Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF)”.
But the question is, why is the Chief of INC urging the Prime Minister to transfer funds to Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF)?
The PMNRF was established by Jawaharlal Nehru has a clause in it, that this fund can be used only with the consent and signature of all the committee members. The list of the committee members are as follows:
- The Prime Minister
- The President of the Indian National Congress
- The Deputy Prime Minister
- The Finance Minister
- A representative of the Tata Trustees
- A representative of Industry and Commerce to be chosen by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI)
Now, the question arises that if it is a government fund, then why was the President of any political party was made a trustee of the fund? Moreover, even today, the Centre cannot spend any amount from the PMNRF without the signature or consent of Congress Chief that is Sonia Gandhi. It is such a frightening truth that in this PMNRF, only a special political party president will be the member. Also indirectly he will be a party to its utilisation.
This is the reason why Prime Minister Modi had created a new fund called “PM CARES FUND” to remove dependability of utilisation of a relief fund from having to obtain the consent of Congress president.
Further, all the trustees in this new fund are all government officials. No political party president or member is involved in its operations.
Trustees of this fund are Prime Minister, Home Minister, Defence Minister and Finance Minister, and this office of trustee is an ex-officio post meaning, even if the government changes in future, then the ruling government will be able to use this fund without the interference of any political party.
In short, the PM CARES is a recent creation that is to be utilised for fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic and any similar issues that might arise in future. In recent days, celebrities and ordinary citizens have come forward to donate in this fund.
The PMNRF has a similar role, but has so traditionally been used to combat crises such as floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters, explosions, fire-related accidents, bus or rail accidents and so on.