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COVID-19 pandemic| Stop politicising plight of migrant workers; let's deal with the issue more responsibly: FM to Cong

Sitharaman after announcing the Rs 20-lakh crore economic package said the government would seek cooperation from all parties including the Congress to resolve the issue.

May 17, 2020 / 04:35 PM IST
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Hitting back at the Congress, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said its leader Rahul Gandhi is doing drama and asked the political parties to refrain from politicising the plight of migrant workers and behave responsibly on the issue. Sitharaman after announcing the Rs 20-lakh crore economic package said the government would seek cooperation from all parties including the Congress to resolve the issue.

The Centre has already informed all states that about 1,500 trains are available to carry migrant workers to their destination based on the request from the respective states, she said when asked to comment on the Congress' criticism about economic package and the handling of migrant workers.

She wondered as to why the Congress or their alliance-ruled states is not requesting for more trains and help their own migrant labours reach their home.

"Rather they are adding to misery of migrant labours, who is walking on their foot to their home, by stopping them and talking. It would be much better, if they could walk along with with them and also carry their yoke or their children," she said while referring to Rahul Gandhi's interaction with a group migrant workers fleeing to their home state on Saturday.

"They are calling us dramabaaz. What happened yesterday by stopping migrants and interacting with them on the road and wasting their time? Aren't they dramabaaz?," she quipped.

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Earlier this week, the Congress had said the government's economic package has so far fallen way short of what the prime minister had promised the nation and dubbed it as a "jumla package". "I request Congress president Sonia Gandhi that let us speak responsibly and let us deal with our migrant workers more responsibly," she said.

She also dared the Congress to declare that migrants workers are in very comfortable state in states ruled by their party.

"Many states are cooperating but others claim to be cooperating with the centre on the issue of movement of migrant labours," she added.

Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has said in tweet: "80 percent of the bogus Rs 20 lakh crore package announced. What more recycling and gimmickry remains. How many more jumlas will India endure as pain, agony and distress intensifies."

Ramesh added: "Madam Finance Minister, one simple question. What is the additional cash you are putting into the system over the next six months? The announcements...are mostly contained in..budget presented on February 1. Another case of repackaging and remarketing."

"Will the finance minister please shed light on basics of 'atmanirbhar arthashastra' (self-reliant economics)? On February 1, 2020, she projected the Centre's expenditure at Rs 30.42 lakh crore for year 2020-21. Now, with 'atmanirbhar Bharat' package what is the revised expenditure figure for 2020/21? Everything else is dramabaazi."

According to reports, the mass migration of people due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown is the biggest in the Indian history since partition of 1947. Women, children, old and young are walking to their home state on foot as there has been income disruption at the place of their work.
PTI
first published: May 17, 2020 04:13 pm

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