Credit where due, the Indian National Congress was successful in misleading the nation over the issue of migrants being charged for the special trains ferrying them to their respective hometowns. The party falsely claimed to “purchase” the tickets for the migrants going home wherein reality the Indian Railways was not selling any tickets. Under the present arrangement, the Indian Railways bears the cost of the 85% of the ticket fare and allocates 1200 tickets to the respective state governments who not only have to identify the migrants who need to travel home and accordingly distribute tickets but also bear the rest 15% of the ticket fee, so that no migrant worker had to pay for the rail ticket. Turns out, only the states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Kerala are making the migrants pay for their tickets as they didn’t bear the rest 15% of the ticket fee.
The Central government in the spirit of the lockdown was urging the state governments to take care of their migrant population and desist from creating an environment which would prompt the migrant workers to return to their hometown. As the lockdown has been extended, the Central government finally heeded to the calls of the state government and are running 34 special trains across the country to help the migrant workers reach home.
The Indian National Congress sensed an opportunity and wasted no time in playing politics as it sought to mislead the nation by offering to “purchase” the tickets. Times Now reports that only three states are charging the migrants for their train journey which are; Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Kerala. One doesn’t need to be a political scientist to figure out the link between the three states.
#Breaking | Govt sources: Only Kerala, Rajasthan & Maharashtra made the migrants pay for the railway tickets.
Details by TIMES NOW’s Megha Prasad. pic.twitter.com/ioMJhf0w2t
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) May 4, 2020
It was a classic Congress move where they themselves “charge” the money in the first place and then “offer” to return the same amount. It must be noted that even under normal circumstances, the Indian Railways which is the preferred mode of transport for most of the Indians, gives a subsidy of almost 50% to its passengers.
At a time when the trains aren’t running own to the lockdown, the decision to announce 34 special trains will see the Railways bearing the majority of the cost because of the following reasons:
- The Indian Railways has already announced on May 2 that it will be paying the 85% of the ticket fee.
- To prevent any crowding at stations, the Indian Railways is not selling tickets and is making no contact with the passengers. Its the prerogative of the respective state governments to distribute the 1200 tickets provided to them and clear the 15% dues before handing the tickets over to the passengers. It is especially done so that the state governments can ensure that only the needy people travel in these special trains.
- Since strict social distancing norms have to be followed in the special trains, the trains are only carrying 60% of their passenger capacity.
- Additionally, the trains after reaching the destination have to return completely empty which is not the case under normal circumstances. For eg: A train running from Maharashtra to Jharkhand will have to return completely empty from Jharkhand.
The Indian Railways is doing their bit to ensure that the poor migrant workers don’t have to pay for their journey home and its the duty of the Central government to ensure that they aren’t charged. There have been instances in Gujarat too where the migrant workers have been charged Rs 700 to return to their respective hometowns. The Gujarat government must follow the Madhya Pradesh government in ensuring that no migrant has to pay for their journey home.
It is absolutely distasteful for the Congress to try to claim an upper hand when in fact, the Congress-ruled states are refusing to waive off the 15% ticket fee they are duty-bound too.