The Coronavirus Pandemic and the consequent migrant crisis has become a huge political issue, and this going to make a huge impact on the state of Bihar in the upcoming Assembly polls, as the Nitish Kumar government seems altogether apathetic towards the incoming migrants.
This is well articulated in the statement of a migrant worker, who reportedly said, “In UP, we were helped by cops in every police station who arranged for transportation. Although it required a lot of coordination, they gave us food, biscuits and water. But In our home state, forget about buses, no policeman is even willing to talk to us and everyone shoos us away.”
This migrant worker is a part of a migrant group that NDTV spoke to the Gopalganj district, that is, while they were headed towards their homes in the Chapra district. The migrant workers say that they were treated very well in Uttar Pradesh compared to their experience in Bihar thus far.
This is not an isolated case though, and the NDTV report picks up another example- a group of 150 migrant workers in an open lorry on the UP-Bihar border.
This group too agreed that they were treated better by the Yogi administration in Uttar Pradesh. One migrant worker said, “Despite all the hardship, the fact remains that we were fed properly in Uttar Pradesh although we are not very sure about our own home state.”
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath is winning the hearts of incoming migrants not only in the state of UP, but also in the state of Bihar.
BJP legislators believe that his popularity is sky-rocketing amongst migrants hailing from Bihar because of his moves to help them reach UP-Bihar border when they were coming back from Delhi, and also sending buses to pick up stranded students belonging to Bihar from Kota, Rajasthan and dropping them at the state border.
While the Yogi government is helping migrant workers, the Nitish Kumar-led Bihar government itself has been giving them a cold shoulder.
In the initial days of the lockdown, sheltering migrants in other states was certainly an option, but Bihar CM Nitish Kumar overdid it when he refused to take up the migrants’ case during the Delhi migrant crisis towards March-end.
On the other hand, UP Chief Minister made all provisions to bring back the migrants safely. Again, when Yogi government decided to bring back students from Kota, Nitish Kumar refused to bring back the students of his own state.
He had said, “Students studying in Kota come from well-to-do families. What is the urgent need to get them home while migrant workers are stranded in other parts of the country?”
The Coronavirus situation itself hasn’t been handled very well in Bihar, and an abysmally low number of tests have been conducted in the state, one of the most densely populated in the country.
Only 44,340 tests were conducted by Bihar as of May 16, and more tests were conducted by much smaller and less populated states like Punjab and Haryana.
There are palpable signs of Nitish Kumar’s popularity dropping- a development of which the BJP must take note when Bihar goes to polls later this year.