It seems that Arvind Kejriwal and Uddhav Thackeray are caught in a fight about who can undertake a more ambitious PR strategy at the expense of the people. While Uddhav Thackeray and his son, Aaditya have surrendered at the feet of eminent personalities from Bollywood to help save the battered reputation of the Maharashtra government, Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers sought to cash in on the migrant crisis in a bid to earn some brownie points.
Delhi Labour Minister and senior AAP leader Gopal Rai took to Twitter to claim that the Delhi government is paying the ticket fare of the migrants’ journey to Bihar in the Shramik special trains. It later turned out that the Delhi government had sent a letter to the Bihar government seeking a refund on the ticket fare paid by the AAP government, thus indulging in a fresh tug of war between the Delhi and Bihar government.
The JD(U) wasted no time in exposing the white lies of the AAP government as the latter sought to profit from the plight of the migrants. It is important to note that the Central government has announced 34 Shramik trains which are running across the country to help the migrants reach their respective homes. The Centre is paying for the 85% of the ticket fare while the rest 15% the respective state governments have to waive off and accordingly identify and give the tickets to those in need. A huge political slugfest has broken out as a result as everyone wanted to cash in on the migrant crisis with AAP being the latest entrant.
AAP leader Gopal Rai took to Twitter to claim that the special train ferrying the migrant labourers to their hometown in Muzaffarpur, Bihar has left with the Arvind Kejriwal government paying the ticket fare. Expectedly, Gopal Rai’s tweet was received well with the Bihar Opposition finding a new ploy to attack the Bihar government.
— Gopal Rai (@AapKaGopalRai) May 8, 2020
Turns out, it was nothing but white lies as in the same breath, the Delhi government had sent a letter to the Bihar government to reimburse the former as it had paid the for the tickets for the migrants going back to Bihar due to “logistical issues”. The Delhi government in the letter stated that the approximate cost of the train totals to Rs 6.5 lakhs and said, “You(Bihar government) are requested not to reimbursement the fare to passengers but the same may be reimbursed to GNCTD (Govt of National Capital Territory of Delhi).”
यह तो केजरीवाल सरकार की अलग कहानी चल रही है …ट्वीट करके वाहवाही लूटते हैं कि टिकट के पैसे केजरीवाल सरकार देगी और चिट्ठी भेजकर बिहार सरकार से पैसे मांगते हैं। pic.twitter.com/93OenCFKz1
— Shandilya Giriraj Singh (@girirajsinghbjp) May 8, 2020
“Delhi government is lying that it is buying tickets for Shramik special trains in bulk for sending back migrant workers from Bihar and seeking reimbursement from us. In adherence to the Centre’s guidelines, CM Nitish Kumar has already announced that each migrant worker will be reimbursed the train fare, whether they have paid for it or not,” said Bihar water resources minister Sanjay Kumar Jha.
He further added, “Besides, another Rs 500 would be given to each migrant worker returning from other states by special trains. Both these amounts, with a clause of minimum Rs 1000, will be reimbursed at the quarantine camps set up in districts and block headquarters.”
Jha also stated that the Bihar government has already paid Rs 76 lakh as an advance for all special trains bound for Bihar. The Nitish Kumar government has many faults but it certainly cannot be faulted here as the Bihar government was prepared and had already made necessary arrangements for the poor migrant workers. The eyeball hungry AAP government sought to cash in on the good work of the Bihar government only to fall flat on its face.
This is not the first time that the Delhi and Bihar governments have faced off amidst the lockdown as earlier the Bihar government had accused the AAP government of sending the migrant workers on a bus to Bihar without even informing the Bihar government.
Kejriwal has grossly failed to contain the virus in Delhi as the Union Territory has reported 6,542 cases of the virus with 73 fatalities. Delhi is also in the middle of another crisis- shortage of PPEs for health workers and rising cases of Coronavirus-affected medical staff.
According to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, 33 doctors have been affected due to the novel Coronavirus till now and the situation is “worrying”.
Delhi is no bigger than a city, and handling the COVID-19 outbreak shouldn’t have been an uphill task for any Chief Minister, especially when it also happens to the National Capital of India and thus enjoys better facilities than any other part of India.
But Kejriwal’s apathy towards medical workers has landed the latter in a quagmire, with absolutely shocking reports of lack of PPEs, long working hours, and unhygienic accommodation for quarantined nurses- all of which make them susceptible to the novel Wuhan virus. For a state government that spends heavily on advertising its efforts in improving healthcare facilities, this is rather dubious.
A senior nursing staff from the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) hospital, speaking in the condition of anonymity, said, “We are receiving PPE kit supplies for a week or a month and we have been asked to ration it for that entire period among on-duty nurses. Since there is a paucity of these kits, one out of three nurses on a shift gets to use the complete kit, while others have to make do with the usual gowns and masks. During the night shift, nurses are wearing the PPE kit for 12-hour straight. It is suffocating.” Meanwhile, the Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal cannot get over his PR campaign even now. Recently, he was promoting Plasma therapy as a panacea for the novel Coronavirus. But the Centre has made it clear that the efficacy of this treatment is yet to be proven.
It is sad to see that some state governments just look at the migrants as a potential PR material and their lackadaisical approach towards the migrant crisis has the potential to derail India’s fight against the Wuhan coronavirus.