The Congress on Thursday criticised the government for the second tranche of its stimulus package to boost the Covid-19 hit economy, saying it had provided just Rs 3500 crore for the millions of migrant workers walking thousands of kilometres to reach their homes.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the entire press conference of finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman was a “classic display of arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity” and claimed that except for Rs 1500 crore interest subvention for Shishu Mudra loans and Rs 3500 crore for migrant workers, there was nothing else out of the Rs 20 lakh crore package.
“For the millions of migrants that you claim are the builders of this nation, all you have for them is Rs 3500 crore in terms of atta and chana. It is pathetic. They are left to the mercy of God. This is your empathy for the poor of this country. That’s why we say you are a suit boot ki sarkaar,” he told reporters through a video conference.
“This is the entire quantum of the package that the BJP ostensibly put together for the greatest humanitarian tragedy since the 1947 Partition exodus and the East Pakistan refugee crisis,” Tewari added.
He said the government does not even have the figures of how many people were housed in relief camps. The government said there are 8 crore migrants but the reality is that 11 crore migrants are in the country, as per the 2011 census, and the numbers have increased since then, he added.
“We expected the finance minister to specify what the government is doing to ferry migrants who are walking on the roads back to their homes. But nothing like that happened,” Tewari said.
His colleague Supriya Shrinate termed the stimulus package as a “loan mela” and said the government should give direct cash transfer to the poor to enhance the demand and this would cost just Rs 65,000 crore.
“Look at the insensitivity of the government that is doing nothing for the workers walking on foot right now but talking about measures ahead… The indignity with which Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about MNREGA, the same MNREGA is a life saver in rural areas today,” she added.
Earlier, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the party will ensure that the screams of migrant workers reach the government and described them as the ones carrying the country’s flag.
“There is a dense darkness and these are difficult times, have courage, all of us are standing for the safety of all of them. We will ensure that their screams reach the government and they get the help they deserve. They are not the ordinary public of the country, they are the flag bearers of the country’s self-respect. We will never let them bow down,” he tweeted in Hindi.
अंधकार घना है कठिन घड़ी है, हिम्मत रखिए-हम इन सभी की सुरक्षा में खड़े हैं। सरकार तक इनकी चीखें पहुँचा के रहेंगे, इनके हक़ की हर मदद दिला के रहेंगे। देश की साधारण जनता नहीं, ये तो देश के स्वाभिमान का ध्वज हैं… इसे कभी भी झुकने नहीं देंगे। pic.twitter.com/bBf48DiluY
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 14, 2020
But BJP president JP Nadda said the announcements showed the Prime Minister’s sensitivity towards the poor and the marginal people.
I welcome announcements by FM @nsitharaman Ji for the benefit of migrant workers. Free food for two months to 8 Crore migrants, nationwide implementation of “One Nation One Ration Card” Scheme are major initiatives to ensure food security for migrant workers.
— Jagat Prakash Nadda (@JPNadda) May 14, 2020
“I welcome announcements by FM @nsitharaman Ji for the benefit of migrant workers. Free food for two months to 8 Crore migrants, nationwide implementation of One Nation One Ration Card Scheme are major initiatives to ensure food security for migrant workers,” he tweeted.
“Rs 2 lakh crore concessional credit to 2.5 Cr PM Kisan beneficiary farmers & fishermen; and the Rs 30,00O crore additional funding from NABARD etc. will boost the farm sector,” he said in another tweet.