Cong Calls Yogi's Remark on Migrant Workers Anti-Dalit; DK Shivakumar Says UP Not a Private Property

The Congress on Tuesday accused Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of targeting Dalits by saying that a large proportion of migrant workers returning home to the state are infected with coronavirus.

The party's Karnataka unit has also hit out at the UP government for its decision that other states should seek its permission to employ its natives, stating that such actions lack common sense and would only make people of the state to suffer more.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had on Monday taken on Adityanath over his remark that 75 per cent of UP workers returning from Mumbai are infected, questioning the math.

In a video clip, Adityanath was also heard saying that 50 per cent of workers returning from Delhi have coronavirus and 25-30 per cent from other states are similarly infected.

On Tuesday, All India Congress Committee (AICC) office bearer PL Punia said Adityanath's "misleading statement" could lead to "social hatred". He said most migrant workers are Dalits or belong to "backward castes".

"This statement by the chief minister would send a message among people that they are bringing the disease with them. This amounts to conspiring against Dalits and the backwards," Punia, who is the in-charge at AICC for Chhattisgarh.

Congress legislature party leader Aradhana Misra also questioned the statistics. She said according to the government a little above 6,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the state, but going by what Adityanath said the figure should be 10 lakh. Gandhi had made a similar point on Twitter.

Misra said if there is any truth in the CM's claim, the government needs to undertake testing with transparency and tell people about its preparedness to deal with the situation.

Punia also attacked the government for the arrest of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president Ajay Kumar Lallu, claiming he has been punished for serving poor labourers. "The Yogi government is doing injustice to our leader and this will not be tolerated," he said.

Lallu was booked for cheating and forgery over a list of buses on which the Congress had recently offered to bringing migrant workers to Uttar Pradesh.

The UP government had claimed that a large number of buses lacked insurance papers and fitness certificates. Several registration numbers in the list were not even buses, it said during the row with the Congress.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress president DK Shivakumar in a series of tweets hit out at the northern state's Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the move and said, UP was not the private property of his government.

"UP CM Yogi Adityanath's move to restrict hiring people of UP is unconstitutional & goes against the right to freedom of movement. Mr Yogi, please note that UP is not the private property of your govt. The people of UP don't need your govt's permission to work anywhere in India," Shivakumar wrote on Twitter.

"Mr Yogi doesn't understand the basic rules of governance in a democracy. Such actions lack common sense and will only make the people of UP suffer more.. When it's convenient for BJP, it's One Nation, when it's not, it's different states & different people Heights of hypocrisy!" he said in another tweet.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Monday had said that other states should seek its permission to employ its natives. Upset that migrant labourers were "not properly taken care of" by various states in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown, Adityanath had said, "These workers are our biggest resource and we will give them employment in Uttar Pradesh as state government was going to set up a panel for their employment.

"They are our people... and if some states want them back, they have to seek permission from the state government," he had said.

(With inputs from PTI)