UP, Rajasthan in fresh row over migrants’ buses
Rajasthan Congress president and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot accused the Yogi Adityanath government of engaging in petty politics by denying entry to the vehicles which the Congress wanted to run at its expense.Updated: May 23, 2020 03:48 IST
The Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan governments sparred on Friday over a Congress attempt to arrange 1,000 buses for the transport of migrant workers walking to their homes in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled UP after being stranded by the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Rajasthan Congress president and deputy chief minister Sachin Pilot accused the Yogi Adityanath government of engaging in petty politics by denying entry to the vehicles which the Congress wanted to run at its expense.
The UP administration claimed many of the buses were Rajasthan-registered vehicles and accused the Congress of misusing the government machinery in the neighbouring state. The Congress eventually summoned back the buses.
“Taking help doesn’t diminish someone’s stature. UP government did politics and blamed Congress. We condemn it,” Pilot told journalists in Jaipur.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had decided that the party’s state units will bear the expense of the buses, which were arranged by general secretary Priyanka Gandhi. The buses weren’t arranged by the Rajasthan government, but by the Congress for transporting stranded migrants, Pilot said.
“The entire country watched the UP government’s attitude, they levelled charges on the opposition, that too for helping. They created unnecessary hurdles, arrested people and registered FIRs, which shows a narrow mindset that is regrettable,” Pilot said.
In Lucknow, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma said the Rajasthan government had charged UP the full cost of arranging 90 buses for transporting students stranded in the coaching school hub of Kota. He claimed that Priyanka Gandhi’s offer of providing buses to migrant UP workers was a political stunt and her show of empathy for them was a sham.
“On the one hand you do not have the courtesy to drop our students stranded in your state at the UP border and you instead ask us to pay the cost for ferrying students, on the other hand you try to show off your sense of public service and sensitivity by offering buses for migrants in UP,” Sharma said at a press conference.
He demanded an apology from the Congress “for misleading the nation, especially the migrant workers, for its dual character.”A large number of the 1,000 buses that the Congress had offered were unfit for use or uninsured or fake, the UP government claimed.
Rajasthan agreed to provide the buses for Kota students on condition that UP will bear the cost and asked for it in writing. “Shouldn’t the Rajasthan government have showed the courtesy of dropping these students free of cost on the UP borders at least if not at their home,” asked Ashok Katariya, the state minister of transport.
Rajasthan transport minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas said the fuel bill for transporting the students from Kota to UP had come to around Rs.36 lakh, of which the UP government had till date paid Rs. 19 lakh. He said the Rajasthan government spent Rs 2.6 crore in all.