UP calls buses unfit, Priyanka says will ‘send them back’
For its part, the Congress claimed about 900 buses had remained stranded on the border for 24 hours. The decision to send the buses back appears to have ended the party’s faceoff with the state government over offering 1,000 buses to carry migrant labourers back to their homes.Updated: May 20, 2020 22:02 IST
With Uttar Pradesh deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma asserting that the state government cannot play with the lives of migrant labourers by allowing ‘unfit’ buses to transport them, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra responded by saying “we will send them back” from UP’s borders with Rajasthan on Wednesday “if you don’t want to use them.”
Sharma called the Congress list of buses fake, a charge that another senior UP minister had made on Tuesday.
Sharma also said, “How can we take theses private buses mentioned in the Congress list? It’s fake, 460 on the list do not have requisite fitness. How can we deploy them? The state government cannot play with the lives of migrant labourers by using unfit buses. The state government is duty bound to ensure a safe journey to the migrant workers.”
For its part, the Congress claimed about 900 buses had remained stranded on the border for 24 hours. The decision to send the buses back appears to have ended the party’s faceoff with the state government over offering 1,000 buses to carry migrant labourers back to their homes.
In her address on the social media, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, “If you don’t want to use them, it doesn’t matter. We will send them back. We had sent them back three days ago too. We will continue to help the migrant labourers and other people affected by the lockdown enforced following the pandemic. It doesn’t matter whether these are our buses or yours. We only wanted to help to serve the people.”
“I want to request the chief minister our buses are there on the borders till 4pm. Do permit us to run these buses to help the migrants,” said Priyanka before withdrawal of the buses.
“We will complete 24 hours at 4pm. Use them, if you want to. If you want to put on BJP flags or BJP stickers on them, do so. If you want to claim these are your buses do so. But allow these buses to run. How long we will continue to indulge in political issues?” she said.
On the state government’s objections to fitness of some of the buses, Priyanka said, “We don’t want to raise any questions to the state government. If there are any numbers that have been found incorrect, we can give them a new list.”
She, however, said the time wasted in pointing fingers at the Congress list could have been used in using the buses to transport migrant workers.
“I want to say that on May 16-17, we made 500 buses available on the Ghaziabad borders. If these buses had been allowed to run, about 20,000 persons could have reached their homes. On Tuesday, we provided 900 buses. These included about 500 buses on the UP-Rajasthan borders and more than 300 buses remained present on the Delhi-Ghaziabad borders. About 36,000 migrant workers would have reached their home on Tuesday if these buses had been allowed to run. Another 36,000 would have reached their home safe on Wednesday. By now, 92,000 migrant labourers would have been transported… But we continued to indulge in political issues,” she said.
“I want to tell our migrant brothers and sisters that each and every worker and leader of the Congress is with you. You will find our workers in every district on the way to provide food and water or look into other problems of yours. We will continue to help you with all our capability in this hour of crisis,” she added.
Earlier in the day, UP deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma said the videos of buses being circulated by the Congress showed that the buses belonged to the Rajasthan government’s road transport corporation. “How can a political party use government buses?” he asked.
“Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot did not take care of students of Kota. (UP) Chief minister Yogi Adityanath deployed buses to bring them back from Rajasthan… The Rajasthan chief minister even appreciated UP government’s move,” said Sharma, while demanding that the Congress should tender an unconditional apology for committing “fraud” on the issue of providing buses.
Late Tuesday evening, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s private secretary Sandip Singh had sent another letter to additional chief secretary, home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi.
In the letter (sent via email), Sandip Singh said, “Police misbehaved with Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu and arrested him. We made it clear in our letters that our main objective is to help the migrant labourers. We remained on the UP border with all the buses on Tuesday. But we did not get any response from you. With this letter (sent on email) we want to inform you that we are still there and will remain till 4pm on Wednesday.”
Senior UP Congress leader Pankaj Malik said, “We continued to wait at DND flyover with about 500 buses on Wednesday. Other buses remained at UP’s border with Rajasthan. We have shifted our buses from the Delhi border as the police have begun seizure of the vehicles. We want to help the migrant labourers. They may have found a problem with some of the buses mentioned in the Congress list. But the state government could have easily allowed the remaining buses to carry the migrant labourers.”
WHAT UP GOVERNMENT CLAIMS
Over 1000 Shramik Special trains carrying 16 lakh migrant labourers have arrived.
27,000 buses have been deployed to carry the migrant labourers. These include 12,000 UPSRTC buses and 15,000 buses kept at the disposal of district magistrates (200 in 75 districts).
The Congress wasted the government’s precious time by giving a fake list. The UP government is duty bound to ensure safety of migrant workers.
WHAT CONGRESS CLAIMS
We gave a list of 1,000 buses and 900 of them remained stranded on the UP-Rajasthan and UP-Delhi borders.
It doesn’t matter. The state government can use BJP flags or stickers
UP government has wasted precious time. If the state government had used these buses, 92,000 migrant labourers would have been transported in the past two days.