Congress releases video on Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with migrant workers
In the 17-minute video, Gandhi is seen sitting on a footpath with the migrants and interacting with them.Updated: May 23, 2020 12:05 IST
The Congress on Saturday released a video of an interaction between former party chief Rahul Gandhi and a group of migrant workers walking back to a village in Uttar Pradesh from Haryana amid the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.
The interaction took place on May 16 near Sukhdev Vihar flyover in New Delhi. The migrant workers were on their way from Ambala in Haryana to Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi, a distance of about 600 km.
Gandhi met them when they stopped to rest after walking more than 100 km.
In the 17-minute video, Gandhi is seen sitting on a footpath with the migrants and interacting with them.
Watch this short film in which I speak with India’s real nation builders, our migrant brothers & sisters. https://t.co/As99mjVvyt— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 23, 2020
For almost an hour, he listened to their story and hardships, the discrimination they faced, their reasons for deciding to flee their workplace, and why they were forced to walk back to their homes, their fears, dreams and aspirations, the Congress said.
At the request of the group, Gandhi and Congress volunteers organised transport and necessary permissions to get them back safely to their village, the party said.
On arrival, they were screened by local health authorities and put into 21-day home quarantine.
Soon after the interaction on May 16, the party alleged that Delhi Police had detained the workers.
The police, however, refuted the claim. “We have not detained any migrant. Rahul Gandhi came and interacted with the migrants. Later, his supporters took the migrants in their vehicles,” said deputy commissioner of police (southeast Delhi) R P Meena.
The migrant crisis has triggered a political slugfest between the opposition Congress and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with both sides accusing each other of playing politics on the issue.
In his introduction to the video, Gandhi said Covid-19 has hit a lot of people but the worst affected are migrant workers walking thousands of kilometres back to their homes, without food and water and despite being beaten up and threatened.
“But they did not stop and continued to walk back to their homes. I want to give you a glimpse of their thinking, fears, dreams, aspirations and their future,” he said.
In the video, Mahesh Kumar, a migrant worker of Jhansi, tells Gandhi he and the other workers had been walking 120 km and stopping at regular intervals. “We are helpless. What can we do? We have to walk,” he says.
Another construction worker and his family tell Gandhi they would have left for their homes had information about the lockdown been provided four days before it was imposed.
The workers remained non-committal about returning to their workplaces, insisting it is important to save their lives. They claimed they had not received any monetary help from the government.
The migrants said more than the Coronavirus, hunger is hurting them and that is why they were not afraid of getting killed on the roads.
Gandhi concluded the video with a message to migrant workers: “My brother and sisters, you are the strength of this country, you carry the weight of this country on your shoulders. The entire country wants there should be justice (nyay) with you. It is our duty to empower this strength of the country.”
Gandhi also demanded that the government should immediately ensure a direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to each of 13 crore families.
Gandhi’s conversation with this group of migrants was shaped into a documentary and released on the former Congress chief’s YouTube channel, which he launched recently.
The Congress said Gandhi has been extremely active on social media for many years now, becoming one of the 10 most followed politicians in the world on Twitter with 14.2 million followers.
Over the past few weeks, he has been regularly releasing longer format videos of his conversations with noted experts, such as former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Raghuram Rajan and Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee.
In the pipeline are a number of new video formats and innovative communication approaches that he will use to take his message to the widest possible audience in India and abroad, the party said.