Centre counter-attacks Sonia Gandhi with 85% subsidy on migrant trains

Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi sharply criticized the government over the train fare for migrants and went ahead to state that the Bharatiya Janata Party has enough money to write off the loans of their rich friends, but could not help the migrants within the country.

Sonia Gandhi asked the Congress party members across the country to raise funds to pay for the special trains for migrant workers.

Attacking the remarks made by Sonia Gandhi, a BJP leader said, “The statement is Sonia Gandhi’s desperate attempt to revive the fortunes of the party rather than help the migrants. There are at least two states – Nitish Kumar-ruled Bihar and Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh – that have decided to fund rail travel of its workers. Kumar said the state had funded the travel of students who had returned from Kota in Rajasthan and will do the same for migrant workers as well. They won’t have to pay for anything.”

Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, hit back at the Congress leader in a string of tweets and said, “Sonia is ill-advised.” He also added stated that MPs are already paying for the migrant trains. Chouhan went ahead to question Sonia Gandhi on what the states ruled by the Congress party were doing.

Government officials said that the decision even to charge a 15% fare was taken so that state governments did not end up incentivizing the travel of migrants. The Indian Railways are bearing 85%  of the cost of running the migrant trains, an official said. 

In addition to the basic subsidies provided for the passenger fare, the migrant trains only carry 60 per cent of the capacity due to social distancing norms. The migrant trains also have teams of paramedics and railway security officers to ensure no one gets off the coaches midway and returns without passengers on the way back. Also, there are costs incurred at the receiving and sending railway stations.

The government has strictly mandated that the migrant workers returning home should be put under home quarantine to protect the local residents.

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