Congress slams govt over migrant exodus

Sonia Gandhi, Migrant workers, INdia lockdown, coronavirus outbreak, indian express news

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, had sought help for those stranded with one-time access to inter-state transport services. (File photo)

The Congress party, which had earlier extended all support to the Central government in its efforts to combat the novel coronavirus, on Friday hit out at the government over its handling of the exodus of migrants from cities.

Senior party leader Rahul Gandhi said the government had no contingency plans in place for the exodus, and the large numbers of people returning to villages in crowded buses or on foot has significantly dented the lockdown, calling it another “distressing example” of the governments’ “unpreparedness”.

“Out of work & facing an uncertain future, millions of our brothers & sisters across India are struggling to find their way back home. It’s shameful that we’ve allowed any Indian citizen to be treated this way & that the Govt had no contingency plans in place for this exodus,” Gandhi said in a tweet.

“What are the central and state governments doing about the migrant workers who were allowed to leave the cities and towns and who are finding their way back to their villages?” Chidambaram asked. “Back to villages in crowded buses or on foot has significantly dented the lockdown. It is another distressing example of the governments’ unpreparedness,” he added.

Party spokesperson Ajay Maken told the media that the government was ill-prepared to implement the lockdown and that it was a knee-jerk reaction. He cited the example of South Africa, saying that it gave three days’ notice before implementing a 21-day lockdown. “Why didn’t the ruling BJP... give people enough time to prepare and be prepared themselves?” Maken said.

Maken said India’s testing rate is the “lowest in the world”. “Even ventilators, orders have been given yesterday for 40-50,000 more ventilators whereas the number of ventilators which is required is in lakhs and what has been ordered is just 40-50 thousand of ventilators and that too yesterday, why such precious time was wasted, when everything was happening around the world, when we knew that such sort of things were happening around us, why so much of time was wasted?” he asked.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, had sought help for those stranded with one-time access to inter-state transport services.