Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday said that her party will pay for the train tickets of the millions of migrant workers stranded across India. This was after reports said that the government was charging desperate migrant workers stranded across the country to ferry them back to their native places in special trains. No sooner did Sonia Gandhi make the announcement of taking care of the train tickets for migrant workers, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy swung into action announcing that Railway Minister Piyush Goyal had assured him that migrant workers will not be charged for their train journeys.
A statement from Sonia Gandhi read, “The Indian National Congress has been raising this issue from the outset of the lockdown. 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. This will be the Indian National Congress’ humble contribution in service of our compatriots and to
stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them.”
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement for a nationwide lockdown, Sonia Gandhi said that ‘a four-hour notice of the lockdown’ was responsible for the prevailing chaos today leaving millions of workers stranded across India.
She said, “Post the partition of 1947, this is the first time India witnessed a tragedy with such a massive human cost as thousands of migrant workers and labourers were forced to walk home several hundred kilometres on foot- without food, without medicines, without money, without transportation, without anything except for the desire to return to their families and loved ones.”
Gandhi said that workers were the ‘ambassadors of our nation’s growth.’ She added, “When our Government can recognise its responsibility by arranging free air travel for our citizens stranded abroad, when the Government can spend nearly Rs. 100 crores on transport and food etc. for just one public programme in Gujarat, when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate Rs. 151 Crores to the PM’s Corona fund, then why can’t these essential members of our nation’s fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy, especially free rail travel, at this hour of acute distress?”
Hours later, Gandhi’s bete noire Subramanian Swamy took to Twitter to announce that he had approached the office of Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and received an assurance that no worker will have to pay for their train tickets. He wrote, “Talked Piyush Goel office. Govt will pay 85% and State Govt 15%. Migrant labour will go free. Ministry will clarify with an official statement.”
Swamy had earlier called his own government’s step ‘moronic.’ His tweet had read, “How moronic of the Government of India to charge steep rail fares from the half starved migrant labourers! Indians stranded abroad were brought back free by Air India. If Railways refuse to budge then why not make PM CARES pay instead?”
Sonia Gandhi statement in full:
[pdf-embedder url=”http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/PR_CP_Eng_Trans_4-May.pdf” title=”PR_CP_Eng_Trans_4 May”]