The Congress President Sonia Gandhi Monday said on Monday that its state units will bear the cost of rail travel of needy migrant workers and labourers stranded at their workplaces due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown and seeking to return home. Gandhi in a statement announced the party's decision and said this would be the Congress' humble contribution in standing shoulder to shoulder with these workers.
She also accused the central government and the Railways of completely ignoring the demands made by the Congress for ensuring the safe and free travel of migrant workers and labourers to their homes. "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.
"The Indian National Congress has, therefore, taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee shall bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer and shall take necessary steps in this regard," she said in a statement. Gandhi noted that lakhs of migrants continue to walk hundreds of kilometres to reach back their homes without food, water, medicines and cash.
She criticised the central government for not recognising its responsibility and said if it can bring back free of cost citizens stranded abroad by air, why can't the same responsibility be shown towards the poor migrants who are considered ambassadors of the nation's growth.
Meanwhile, the BJP said on Monday the railways has subsidised 85 per cent of ticket fare for special trains being run to transport migrant workers and the state government has to pay the remaining 15 per cent, soon after the Congress attacked the central government over the issue.
The state government concerned can also pay for the tickets, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said. He said the Madhya Pradesh government is doing so and asked Rahul Gandhi to tell the Congress-ruled states to follow suit.
He was responding to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's attack on the railways for charging poor migrant labourers ticket fare, even as it donated over Rs 151 crore to the PM-CARES Fund.
(With inputs from agencies)