Hours after Congress President Sonia Gandhi issued a statement on Monday announcing that the Congress would bear the travel expense of every migrant worker stranded due to COVID-19 lockdown, the Central government said it would now bear 85% of the entire cost. BJP MP Subramanian Swamy claimed migrant labourers would travel free of cost as the government will pay 85% and the state government will bear 15% of the expenses. He added that the Ministry would soon clarify the same with an official statement.
However, Swamy had earlier criticised the Centre by saying:
Gandhi had announced that every Pradesh Congress Committee in the country would bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer.
Gandhi declared the same after accusing the Central government and the railways of completely ignoring Congress’ demands of ensuring safe and free travel of migrant workers and labourers back to their homes. She said, “There needs to be provisions for the safe and free rail travel of migrant workers and labourers to their home-towns. However, despite our repeated demands, the central government and the Rail Ministry have chosen to completely ignore the same.”
Gandhi said, “When government could arrange free air travel for our citizens stranded abroad, could spend Rs 100 crores for just one event, when the Railway Ministry could donate Rs 151crores to PM-Cares, can’t migrant workers travel for free?”
She asked the Centre why couldn’t the same responsibility be shown towards the poor migrants who are considered ambassadors of the nation’s growth.
Cabinet Minister in the Maharashtra government and Guardian Minister of Nagpur Dr Nitin Raut bore expenses to send back migrants from Nagpur by rail. Similarly, Karnataka Congress’ spokesperson Ravi Gowda said, “Our party’s state unit president DK Shivakumar gave Rs 1 crore through cheque to the Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) towards the cost of bus fare for sending the migrant workers to their native places across the state from Bengaluru.”