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If you want to inquire into BMC 'corruption', probe PM CARES Fund also: Uddhav

If you want to inquire into BMC corruption, probe PM CARES Fund also: Uddhav

Mumbai: Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday demanded a probe to find out how money collected under the PM CARES Fund, set up during the coronavirus pandemic, was utilised.

If any corruption has taken place in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which was ruled by the undivided Shiv Sena for more than two decades, then probe it, but also inquire into the work done by states during the pandemic, he said.

Speaking at the launch of a book on freedom fighter and Lokmat Group founder Jawaharlal Darda, the former CM said Mumbai and Maharashtra presented a model on coronavirus response and earned praise, but his critics never appreciated his government's efforts to tackle the pandemic.

He indirectly took a dig at Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and his new deputy Ajit Pawar of the NCP for laying claim to the party against which they revolted.

"One does not have the ability to create anything, but those who have created something are being robbed," Thackeray said.

Both Shinde and Ajit Pawar staked claim to the original Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), respectively, following their rebellion.

He also took a jibe at his former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and said ideology that has nothing to do with India's freedom struggle is now ruling the country.

Thackeray, who was the CM of Maharashtra when the coronavirus struck in 2020, said his government was appreciated for its response to the pandemic.

"When the world was grappling with the coronavirus infection, Mumbai presented a model on what can be done. But when the world was praising (the work done by the state government and BMC in Mumbai), you did not have the big heart to appreciate it," said the Shiv Sena (UBT) leader.

"If you cannot appreciate it, why are you defaming me? Today, they are defaming (the work) because of which Maharashtra and Mumbai was appreciated," Thackeray said.

He said a probe should be conducted into the functioning of all states during the coronavirus pandemic.

"If the so-called corruption, according to you (a reference to the BJP), in the BMC is to be probed then also investigate the PM CARES Fund because it was people's money and they should know how it was used. Can't this be a scam?" he said.

The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was set up in 2020 as a public charitable trust with the aim of having a dedicated national fund to deal with distress related primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PM is the chairperson of the fund and its members include defence, home and finance ministers.

Last month, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided people considered close to Sena (UBT) leaders Aaditya Thackeray and Sanjay Raut in a money laundering case related to alleged irregularities in giving contracts for setting up jumbo COVID-19 care centres and making various purchases during the pandemic.

Thackeray said no one can back the Emergency (1975-77) imposed in the country by then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi even though the Shiv Sena supported it for bringing in discipline.

But no one supported what happened later, said the former CM, referring to the excesses committed during the 21-month period which saw large-scale arrests of Opposition leaders.

The ones who declared the Emergency, a period which saw suspension of most of the civil liberties in the country, had at least allowed the opponents to campaign against the measure, maintained Thackeray.

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