BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy on Monday lashed out at the Centre for charging the stranded migrant labourers. But within five minutes of his attacking tweet, he took out another saying that the Railway Minister’s office had clarified to him that the migrant labourers won’t be charged.
In an unusually strongly worded tweet, Swamy hit out at the BJP-led Centre. He sent out a tweet at 9.11 a.m. saying: “How moronic of the Government of India to charge steep rail fares from the half starved migrant labourers! Indians stranded abroad were brought back free by Air India. If Railways refuse to budge then why not make PM CARES pay instead?”
The railways has earlier said that it was charging the state governments for the Shramik special train tickets, which are meant for “nominated people” identified and registered by the state governments and the railways will not issue any tickets to any individual or entertain any request from any groups.
However, within just five minutes of his first salvo at the Centre, Swamy followed it up with another tweet, this time claiming to have talked to the office of Piyush Goyal, the Union Railway Minister. According to Swamy, he said he has been clarified by his office that migrant labourers won’t be charged at all and instead the bill will be split between the Centre and the state, with the Centre bearing the bulk of it.
Precisely at 9.16 a.m., just five minutes after his strongly worded first tweet, the BJP MP tweeted; “Piyush Goel office. Govt will pay 85% and State Govt 15%. Migrant labour will go free. Ministry will clarify with an official statement.”
The railways has started to run the Shramik Special trains for transporting the labourers from May 1, almost 40 days after the passenger, mail and Express trains services were suspended. Till now the national transporter has run over a dozen of Shramik Special trains on the request of the state governments to ferry the migrant labourers.
Interestingly, the tweet salvo came closely on the heels of Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi announcing that the party will bear the cost of the rail tickets. “What is particularly disturbing is that the Central government and the rail ministry are charging them for train tickets in this hour of crisis,” she said while adding “The Congress has, therefore, taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee (state unit) shall bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer and shall take necessary steps in this regard.”
According to the prevalent guidelines, sending states will pay the consolidated fare to the Railways which they (sending states) can bear or charge the labourers or take it from the receiving states.