The announcement on Monday morning, came in the wake of widespread criticism of the Indian Railways for not allowing free travel of the migrants and workers and asking the state governments to pay for it.
Referring to workers and migrants as “ambassadors” of India’s growth who deserve the same courtesy meted out to Indians stranded abroad flown in by the government, the Congress president said every Pradesh Congress Committee will bear the cost for rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer. “This will be INC’s humble contribution in service of our compatriots,” she said in a statement.
Gandhi also questioned the Railways’ contribution to the PM’s Corona fund and the Rs 100 crore that was spent on organising Namaste Trump in Gujarat. “Our workers and labourers are the ambassadors of our nation’s growth. 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?,” Gandhi said in her statement.
Many cash strapped states have already sought the Centre’s assistance in sending migrant populations home.
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Referring to the current migrant movement as a “tragedy with a massive human cost” and the worst since post-1947 migration of people, Congress president said, “As the Central Government barely gave a four-hour notice of the lockdown, workers and migrant labourers were denied the opportunity to return to their homes. 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. The very thought of their plight is enough to break our hearts as there was also the outpouring of support from fellow Indians for their inspiring resolve.”
In Video:Congress to bear cost of rail travel for migrant labourers: Congress president Sonia Gandhi