Bihar, Delhi ministers lock horns over credit for migrants’ return
A day after the Delhi government claimed to have paid the train travel of 1,200 migrant workers to Muzaffarpur district, Bihar’s minister Sanjay Jha Saturday slammed the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government for politicking over the matter saying they had already shot off a letter to Bihar government seeking immediate reimbursement of the amount involved.
Reacting to a tweet by Delhi minister Gopal Rai, Jha said it was resorting to “white lies” over the return of hapless labourers stranded in national capital due to the nationwide lockdown.
“I saw a tweet by a Delhi minister saying they are paying for the tickets of 1,200 migrants who are travelling from Delhi to Muzaffarpur (but) I have a letter here sent by their government asking for the reimbursement of the money from the Bihar government,” the minister for water resources said.
As soon as the Shramik Special train left for Muzaffarpur on Friday, AAP’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh was quick to take credit for facilitating their return back home, while implying that Bihar government had failed to come to the aid of its workers.
Jha also released copy of the letter and said, “On one hand you are taking credit, saying you are sending them back with your own money. On the other hand, you are requesting not to reimburse passengers but to reimburse the amount to the Delhi government.”
“What kind of optics are you trying to create. See your minister Gopal Rai is lying on Twitter that your government will pay the fare, then (you) send a letter asking for money from us,” Jha tweeted.
Union minister Giriraj Singh also attacked the Delhi government for taking recourse to “cheap publicity”.
Later, Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain stepped in. “It is not fair to take money from them (migrant labourers), they have been staying in shelter homes for last two months. From where will they get money to pay for tickets, so the Delhi government paid for it. One shouldn’t do politics over it.”
Earlier, the Bihar government had announced that the travel fare from originating station would be reimbursed by it after the completion of the mandatory 21-day quarantine, besides an additional sum of Rs 500 each. Railways is bearing 85% of the ticket fare, while the state governments concerned will have to pay the remaining 15%, as per Union health ministry.
Meanwhile, another special train left Delhi for Muzaffarpur on Saturday.