Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the leaders of the ruling Congress and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra today vociferously protested against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comment that they had contributed to the spread of Covid by enabling the migrant labourers to go home after lockdown was declared in 2020.
Mr Kejriwal declared that the Prime Minister’s statement was “blatant lies” and accused him of playing politics on the “sufferings of the people”.
“The country hopes that the Prime Minister will be sensitive to those who have suffered the pain of the Corona period, those who have lost their loved ones,” his tweet in Hindi read.
प्रधानमंत्री जी का ये बयान सरासर झूठ है। देश उम्मीद करता है कि जिन लोगों ने कोरोना काल की पीड़ा को सहा, जिन लोगों ने अपनों को खोया, प्रधानमंत्री जी उनके प्रति संवेदनशील होंगे। लोगों की पीड़ा पर राजनीति करना प्रधानमंत्री जी को शोभा नहीं देता। pic.twitter.com/Dd4NsRNGCY
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 7, 2022
In his reply to the debate on the Motion of Thanks to President’s speech, PM Modi had accused the opposition of being responsible for the countrywide spread of Covid in the initial phase of the pandemic.
Pointing at the opposition-ruled governments in Maharashtra and Delhi, he said: “The Congress crossed the limit… During the first wave… the Congress at the Mumbai railway station gave tickets to labourers to go and spread coronavirus… In Delhi, the government used mics on jeeps in slums to go home, arranged buses”.
This, he said, led to a surge of the virus in Uttar Pradesh and other states “where corona didn’t have this intensity”.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister and senior Congress leader Balasaheb Thorat termed the Prime Minister’s remarks “unfortunate”.
“The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi has done a lot of work for the labourers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh during lockdown. We took care of them and when they wanted to go home, we got their tickets… The responsibility that the central government should have taken, we shouldered it,” he said.
Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap questioned how the virus reached the country.
“Rahul Gandhi had already said that international flights should be stopped so that cases do not increase, but it was not done,” he said. He also pointed to the government’s role in the matter.
“We sent people by 106 trains. When the government said they are waiving 75 per cent of the fare, we did the work of paying the remaining 25 per cent and arranged for their food and drink,” he added.
Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi asserted that they will “make this mistake 100 times over .. for humanity”.
4 hours before lockdown announced, trains stopped, interstate travel stopped. Migrants- majorly daily wage labourers were left stranded. If looking after them – with food and shelter was wrong in the eyes of the PM, then will make this mistake 100 times over .. for humanity.
— Priyanka Chaturvedi???????? (@priyankac19) February 7, 2022
The migrant crisis was one of the key issues during the outbreak of the pandemic which the opposition has blamed on the government.
The imposition of the lockdown without any advance warning had led to the suffering of millions, the opposition said, as visuals of labourers footing it to their homes from distant corners, left the country shaken.
Headlines on their plight, including lack of food and water and crackdown by the police at state borders, stunned the world.