NEW DELHI :
Ahead of a crucial meeting between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and key opposition party leaders on migrant labourers, a war of words broke out on Tuesday between Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Uttar Pradesh government over providing transport to people returning home.
At least one million migrant labourers from UP left for their home state, mostly on foot, amid the over 50-day nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
While Congress alleged that buses arranged by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for migrants were not being utilized, the state government said the Congress was not providing adequate information.
“We have done preliminary inquiry and it has come to surface that out of the buses for which they sent details, many were turning out to be two-wheelers, autos and goods carriers. It’s unfortunate. Sonia Gandhi should answer why they are committing this fraud," said Sidharth Nath Singh, Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister.
Sharing a video on Twitter of state unit leaders talking to the police at the border near Agra, Vadra accused the BJP government of wasting three days. She attacked the state government claiming it had crossed all limits as it was creating obstacles by not allowing help to reach migrants. “The UP government has crossed all limits," Vadra said, adding that if the state government wanted it could run the buses with its banners.
Congress had sought permission for running 1,000 buses for migrants, while the state government claimed several registration numbers in the list were of other vehicles. However, Congress said “at least 600 buses" were ready at the border, but they had not received permission by the local administration to operate. Gandhi will chair the first online meeting of key opposition parties, including the Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham and Trinamool Congress later this week, since the national lockdown came into force on 25 March.