The Indian National Congress will not let a pandemic get in its way of doing politics as the redundant party desperately tries to resurrect its fortunes. The plight of the migrant workers and labourers have been at the forefront ever since the country went into a nationwide lockdown, and with the lock down getting extended, the Union government announced special trains to ferry the migrants back home.
The government had clarified that no passenger on the special trains need to pay for their ticket, but Sonia Gandhi sought to exploit the communication gap between the government and the migrants by slamming the Central government for “charging” the poor workers for travelling back home and stated that Congress will pay the travel fee for those migrants who can’t afford. Only Sonia Gandhi and his son, Rahul knows how will Congress pay for the travel fees when the passengers aren’t required to pay a fee.
A huge controversy erupted today morning as led by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi sought to question the Modi government over its move to “charge” the migrants being ferried home on special trains. Sonia loyalist and senior Congress leader, Ahmed Patel also urged the state Congress committees to help the migrants “purchase” the tickets.
Sonia Gandhi in a video interview stated that, “There need to be provisions for the safe and free rail travel of migrant workers and labourers to their home-towns. However, despite our repeated demands, the central government and the Rail Ministry have chosen to completely ignore the same. The Indian National Congress has, therefore, taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee shall bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer and shall take necessary steps in this regard.”
The grand old party clearly wanted to mislead the people as on May 2, the Ministry of Railways in a circular, clearly stated that no one should come to the railway station as no tickets are being sold and clarified that passengers brought and facilitated by the state governments can only travel.
Rahul Gandhi ji,
I have attached guidelines of MHA which clearly states that “No tickets to be sold at any station”
Railways has subsidised 85% & State govt to pay 15%
The State govt can pay for the tickets(Madhya Pradesh’s BJP govt is paying)
Ask Cong state govts to follow suit https://t.co/Hc9pQzy8kQ pic.twitter.com/2RIAMyQyjs
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) May 4, 2020
The Central government has decided to subsidise 85% of the travel fare while the rest 15% was to be borne by the respective state governments which has been clearly mentioned by the Ministry of Railways in its earlier circular. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister took the lead as yesterday night he tweeted that the fare of the migrant workers will be borne by the state and the central governments. He tweeted, “In this time of difficulty, the migrant workers should not worry. I am standing with you. State government is working with central government and railways ministry to bring you back home. Your fare will be borne by us.”
The INC sensed an opportunity and gain some much needed goodwill despite being fully aware of the facts and hence resorted to mislead the entire country. After the controversy snowballed, the Ministry of Railways issued yet another clarification stated that at present 34 special trains are running across the country to ferry the poorest of the poor to their respective homes. It further added that in the special trains, food and water is provided free of cost to the migrant workers.
The Railways clarified that it is charging only standard fare for the special trains from the State Governments which is just 15% of the total cost incurred by it.
Railways has run 34 Shramik special trains so far from different parts of the country and is fulfilling its social responsibility of providing safe and convenient travel especially to the poorest of the poor in a time of crisis: Railway Ministry Sources #CoronavirusLockdown
— ANI (@ANI) May 4, 2020
Guidelines of MHA clearly states that No tickets to be sold at ny stations.
Rlys is bearing 85% fares n states hve to chip in abt 15% of tkt prices
1200 tkts of Shramik Express handed by Rlys 2d states.States supposed to clear d tkt price n hand tkts 2 migrants #SoniaItalyModel pic.twitter.com/eP5fLG4gQr
— Naina 🇮🇳 (@NaIna0806) May 4, 2020
There have been some instances where people have been charged for the tickets. It must be made clear that for every special train, the Indian Railways hands out 1200 tickets to the state government pertaining to the destination of the train, and the respective state governments are supposed to clear the ticket price and hand the ticket over to the passengers. Hence, it is possible that some state governments might be charging the passengers by refusing to clear the 15% fee that has to be cleared by them.
Some have posted tickets & asked clarification that if tickets are not sold then what’s this!
For each Shramik Express about 1200 tickets to the destination are handed by the Railways to State Govt.
State govts are supposed to clear the ticket price & hand over tickets to workers https://t.co/Axtmen5nY9 pic.twitter.com/kTUWThmeP3
— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) May 4, 2020
It is important to note that the Modi government had already requested people to stay where they are, but some people need to travel to their native places for various reasons and the respective state governments get to decide on that, Indian Railways is providing only a service to the State governments those want to send stranded people and those who want to bring them.
Indian Railways is providing Shramik special trains for standed migrant labourers and it is already paying the 85% of the fare. By maintaining adequate social distancing norms (60% passenger capacity in a train), these Shramik special trains are being run along with arrangements of food and water, security etc. on the way. Further, the empty trains are being brought back to the originating locations.
It must be reminded that even on normal days, the Indian Railways gives about 50% subsidy to passengers for traveling. Keeping all these in mind, only 15-20% of these Railway expenses are being charged from the state governments, and the tickets are being given to the state governments directly. Indian Railways is neither selling tickets to any passenger nor making any contact with them. This is also important to keep a control on the entire process, and the state governments should ensure that only the needy people travel in these special trains. If this is not done then huge crowds may gather at the Railway Stations. It will be impossible to keep control and safety, and to maintain Social distancing to avoid further spread of infection. This might also lead to stampedes and it would be impossible for states to control them.
Besides, it would have been extremely difficult for the state governments to ensure that only migrant laborers are traveling in these trains. To ensure that the entire process remains under control and stranded people can be transported to their villages, it is very important that the travel is regulated, and utmost discipline is observed.
Meanwhile, according to Times Now, the state governments of Kerala, Rajasthan and Maharashtra made migrants pay for their tickets.
#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 is very unfortunate that Congress party, in these times of crisis, decided to play dirty game putting baseless allegations on the Central government. Till now Indian Railways has run 34 Shramik special trains successfully without any issue, but this announcement by Sonia Gandhi has the potential to mess the entire system and create chaos.