Party president Sonia Gandhi had said that her party’s state units would come to the rescue of migrant workers.
New Delhi:State Congress units are cold to implement party president Sonia Gandhi’s announcement to pay the railway fare of the migrant workers heading for home in the middle of the lockdown.
Barring a few, hardly any Pradesh Congress Committee has paid the fare of these migrant workers.
On 4 May, Congress president Sonia Gandhi announced that her party’s state units will come to the rescue of the migrant workers by paying the railway fare.
However, even after about two weeks, most of the state units have not implemented their leader’s announcement, despite hype and hoopla attached to it. Interestingly, more than 12 lakh migrant workers have already boarded 1,000-plus “Shramik Special” trains to reach their home states.
As per arrangement, 85% of the journey cost is borne by the Centre, while the remaining 15% is taken care of by the respective state governments. Besides, a superfast charge of Rs 30 and additional charge of Rs 20 for meals and water is also being charged.
However, there are reports that in many cases, the state governments are not paying their share of the cost and therefore, the migrants are forced to pay for it.
The Congress’ offer to pay this part came as a great relief to lakhs of migrant workers who were facing the apathy of many state governments.
Congress Central leaders appeared to be evasive on the issue.
There was no response from the office of the Congress president to an emailed query asking for details of payments made by the party towards the railway fare, despite repeated reminders.
Congress in-charge of communication department, Randeep Singh Surjewala, did not divulge details of the contribution given by the different state party units towards payment of the railway fare despite repeated requests.
Though Pranav Jha, secretary in-charge of the department, assured this correspondent to provide details, there was no response from his side till filing of this report. Similar was the case with different state units.
This correspondent approached presidents of Congress units of states like Delhi (Anil Kumar Chaudhary), UP (Ajay Kumar Lallu), MP (Kamal Nath, president), Maharashtra (Nitin Raut, working president), Punjab (Sunl Jakhar), Haryana (Kumari Selja), Rajasthan (Sachin Pilot), Jharkhand (Rameshwar Oraon), West Bengal (Somendra Nath Mitra), Karnataka (Eshwara Khandre, working president), Chhattisgarh (Mohan Markam), Gujarat (Amit Chavda), asking them to provide details of payments made by their respective state units towards the railway fare.
However, barring West Bengal, Bihar, Maharashtra and Haryana, no other state units provided any information as to what the quantum of help was to the migrant workers in terms of railway fare, as committed by the Congress president.
However, Haryana Congress president and former Union Minister Kumari Selja told The Sunday Guardian that a cheque of Rs 40 lakh has been sent to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on behalf of the state party unit. However, she said that the state government was not sharing information about the number of migrant workers wanting to board Shramik Special trains and their travel details.
West Bengal Congress president Somendra Nath Mitra said the state Congress has offered to pay the 15% part of the total railway fare, which is to be taken care of by the state government.
“We have written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee about the offer. However, she has not responded to it,” he said. Mitra, however, added that the state party unit has arranged buses to send migrant workers to states like UP, Jharkhand and Assam.
Speaking to this correspondent, Bihar Congress president Madan Mohan Jha said his state unit has nothing much to do as there are hardly such migrant workers in his state.
“But some of the people wanted to travel to other states from here. We have booked tickets for them in the special Rajdhani Express trains for travelling Assam, UP and Punjab. Besides, we have arranged buses for a few people going to UP, Odisha, West Bengal, Bhatinda (Punjab), and Assam,” Jha said.
A representative of the Maharashtra Congress working president Nitin Raut, who is also the state Energy Minister, told The Sunday Guardian that the Nagpur Congress unit (Raut represents the Nagpur North constituency) has so far paid Rs 12,99,830 towards railway fare and also transportation cost by road, of migrant workers leaving for places like Muzaffarpur, Lucknow, Balia, Darbhanga and Ahmed Nagar.