Uddhav Thackeray’s Dig At PM After Probe Against Partymen In Covid ‘Scam’


Amid Enforcement Directorate action against some persons close to his party in an alleged jumbo Covid facility scam, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday demanded a probe into the PM CARES Fund.

He also demanded an investigation into the functioning of civic bodies of Nagpur, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune, as well as governments in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, all of which were or are led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, and Thane, which is controlled by the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena.

The terms of these civic bodies ended in early 2022 but polls were not held due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Talking to reporters late Saturday evening, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said, โ€œProbe wherever coronavirus work has happenedโ€. He said the government will not stop any investigation and the truth should come out.

Mr Shinde said when people were dying some were making money.

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hit out at Mr Thackeray and asked who was feeding on corpses during the pandemic.

Earlier in the day in his address to party workers, Mr Thackeray dared the government to probe the working of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) during the pandemic.

He said the Epidemic Act and the Disaster Management Act were in place as the dire situation demanded that one go beyond rules to save the lives of citizens.

The BMC was controlled by the undivided Shiv Sena till its term ended in February last year.

“We are not scared of any probe. And when you (government) want to probe, then you also probe Thane municipal corporation, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune and Nagpur civic bodies,” he said.

“Probe the PM CARES Fund as well. The PM CARES Fund does not come under the ambit of any investigation. Lakhs and crores of rupees were collected. Many ventilators were malfunctioning. We will also carry out a probe,” the former chief minister said.

The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund was set up in 2020 as a public charitable trust to have a dedicated national fund to deal with distress related primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister is the chairperson and members include Defence Minister, Home Minister and Finance Minister.

Mr Thackeray said he had topped the list of ‘best performing chief minister’ surveys amid the pandemic and this had led to the BJP having a “stomach ache” since none of its leaders could find a place in these rankings.

Mr Thackeray was chief minister from late 2019 till June 2022, while the pandemic set in across the country by March 2020.

“You (BJP-led dispensation) are making a villain out of Uddhav Thackeray. People will decide whether he is a hero or a villain. But you are ‘nalayak’ (worthless),” Mr Thackeray claimed.

The world had praised the “Mumbai model” for the metropolis’ fight against the pandemic, while opponents, an apparent reference to the BJP, were defaming it, he alleged.

Mumbai was being looted and the allegations of a COVID scam have surfaced because the Shiv Sena (UBT) was exposing irregularities, he said.

The Eknath Shinde government had set up a Special Investigation Team under the Mumbai police commissioner to probe alleged irregularities worth Rs 12,000 crore that were flagged in a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

โ€œIf a dead body bag which costs Rs 500 is bought for Rs 5,000-6,000 then shouldn’t that be probed? The people of the state should know about their true face,โ€ Mr Shinde said.

Mr Thackeray had announced that a march will be taken outside the Mumbai civic body against “corruption” on July 1, which will be led by his son and former Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray.

The former chief minister said Maharashtra was the only state to build a field care hospital to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“What happened in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh?” he asked.

Both states are ruled by the BJP and routinely hit the headlines during the pandemic for steep rise in cases, and news of bodies of victims allegedly being dumped in the Ganga.

Mr Thackeray said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appointed a committee of officers and they were allowed to buy equipment beyond the General Framework Agreement during the pandemic.

The ED on Wednesday raided 15 locations in Mumbai in connection with a money laundering case related to an alleged Covid centres scam against businessman Sujit Patkar, believed to be a close aide of Shiv Sena (UBT) MP Sanjay Raut, and others.

Raids were also conducted at the residence of Suraj Chavan, a core committee member of Yuva Sena (Thackeray faction) and at the locations of some officials of Mumbai civic body and others, including IAS officer Sanjeev Jaiswal, in connection with the alleged hospital management contracts scam, officials had said.

Dismissing the charges of corruption, Mr Thackeray instead dubbed the BJP as cruel for toppling the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh as the pandemic started to set in.

The Nath government fell in March 2020 after MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia walked out, paving the way for a BJP government there under Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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