In an early morning statement Sonia Gandhi threw a google at the government. Criticising the railways and the Modi government for charging rail fares from migrants who were returning home, Gandhi said this was callous and insensitive. She said that Congress would bear the cost of rail tickets for the migrants.
Late last night, Ahmed Patel as treasurer transferred money in the state Congress units and all PCCC chiefs have been asked to either facilitate rail tickets for the migrants or give them money after they show proof of travel.
Sources also say that senior Congress leaders like Bhupinder Hooda, Kumari Selja, Ashok Gehlot among other have been asked to mobilise funds for the mission. It’s going be the beginning of a ‘Jan Andolan’, said a top Congress leader.
There has been pressure on the government to first allow migrants who have dwindling or no means of livelihood to be allowed to go back. Last week MHA gave the permission. Then there was pressure from most state governments to begin rail services as they didn’t have sufficient buses at their disposal.
This was finally allowed by the railways but with nominal fares being asked from the migrants and those stranded. Then began the politics. This question was asked that if airlines could ferry the stranded free of cost then why not railways? The migrants are being forced to go back home as hope of earning money falls. Pictures of migrant workers walking for over 100 km barefoot back home was seen across the country.
Of late, Congress has been accusing the government of being a pro-corporate and anti-poor government. In fact, ‘suit boot ki sarkar’ was a slogan coined by Rahul Gandhi during the 2019 polls.
It didn’t work, neither it stuck to the PM’s image but Congress nonetheless wants to push this perception. Rahul Gandhi particularly has been hitting out at the government over the alleged leverage given to Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi.
The PM’s image didn’t take a hit during 2019 polls on this campaign. But what Congress wants to do is seize an opportunity during the Covid crisis to project the government as being anti-poor and callous.
In 2004, the winning slogan for the Congress was “Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath”. It pushed the image that unlike the ‘India Shining’ campaign of the BJP then Congress was pro-poor. It was Gandhi then who had pushed this slogan for the Congress. It’s her now again who wants to reclaim this pro-image for the Congress again. It could well be the “Congress ka haath aam aadmi ke saath 2.0”.
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