After the Supreme Court rapped the Centre for failing to create a database on unorganised workers, the Congress on Tuesday hit out at the government demanding immediate sacking of the labour minister and an apology from the prime minister.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the Supreme Court's "stinging indictment of the labour ministry warrants the sacking of the labour minister and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should tender an apology to India's migrant labourers".
He also demanded fixing of responsibility of Union Home Minister Amit Shah for mishandling the migration crisis during the lockdown.
"The Supreme Court judgement is a wake-up call and an eye opener for the unpardonable sins committed by the Modi government, in ignoring the plight and miseries of the ''nirmatas'' of urban India - the migrant labourers and treating them as outsider- second class citizens, pushed to the margin to fend for themselves in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic," he said in a statement.
During the day, the Supreme Court termed as "unpardonable" the Centre's "apathy and lackadaisical attitude" towards creating National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) and ordered its commencement by July 31 so that all migrant workers are registered this year and welfare measures extended to them during Covid distress.
The top court issued a slew of directions to authorities on a plea of three activists seeking welfare measures for migrant workers and ordered states and Union Territories to frame schemes for providing free dry ration to them till the pandemic lasts, while the Centre will have to allocate additional foodgrains.
Mr Surjewala said after the Supreme Court's sharp comments, "time has come for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tender an unconditional apology to the architects of urban India -- the migrant labour".
He alleged that while fresh NSS household consumption survey is conducted every five years, in order to deprive the new beneficiaries (underprivileged sections) of the benefits of ration/food items under the 2013 Act, the government has willfully withheld the numbers of the 2017 survey and has not even bothered to take steps to conduct the 2021-22 survey.
"This is nothing short of a crime by the BJP government with the sole intention to deny benefits to the needy at the time of Covid-19," he said.
The Congress demanded that the latest survey numbers be put in the public domain within one week from today and the government shall inform the public about the preparations of the new survey.
"We welcome Supreme Court's decision for appropriate and timely allocation of food grains to all states," Mr Surjewala said, hoping that the government will implement it in letter and spirit.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)