Opposition welcomes Centre's move but has questions

Opposition welcomes Centre's inter-state travel policy, but has questions

As the Centre put in place a mechanism for the inter-state travel of stranded people to their homes, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday said transporting them on buses may not be sufficient and sanitised trains should be used to move large numbers while CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury found fault with the Narendra Modi government for passing the buck to states.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a ruling BJP ally who has earlier criticised the Uttar Pradesh government move to transport students in Rajasthan's Kota, also welcomed the decision.

Chidambaram, also a Rajya Sabha MP and former Finance Minister, welcomed the order issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), saying this has been his party's demand since mid-April.

However, he said buses alone will not be sufficient and suggested that "it is better to run sanitised trains point-to-point to move the large numbers who desire to migrate back to their home states".

Yechury said as it has been the practice, the Modi government has once again passed the buck to the state, making it solely responsible for the well-being of people.

"Finally after a month of imposing agony, hunger and deprivation on crores of migrant workers, the Narendra Modi government has now permitted their return to their homes. Once again it has passed the buck to the states instead of liberally financing them. Now, the states have to arrange for the buses and fund entirely the responsibility of providing health facilities while the Modi government does not help the states, which are actually on the battle front," he told DH.

He said the crisis was due to the manner in which Modi announced the lockdown giving no time for the states or the workers to prepare themselves. "The Modi government has to liberally finance the states," he said.

CPI General Secretary D Raja said the Centre was abdicating the responsibility and shifting the whole burden on the states. "Is this cooperative federalism?" he said.

He also asked the Centre to ensure that the states also accept returning migrant workers as some have earlier expressed reservations.

The Bihar Chief Minister said it was Bihar government's wish that these people return to the state and the Centre has now taken a decision in its favour. "This is a huge relief for stranded people," Kumar was quoted as saying in a statement.

He said the decision is in people's interest and all should adhere to it.