This Article is From May 20, 2020

After 4 PM "Deadline" For UP, Priyanka Gandhi Recalls Buses For Migrants

Following Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's offer to arrange 1,000 buses to take migrants to Uttar Pradesh, the Congress drove the buses to the border but could get no further

Coronavirus: Migrants wait to board buses in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad (AFP)

New Delhi:

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today recalled the buses she had arranged for migrants after the Congress waited till 4 pm for Uttar Pradesh to allow them in. Hundreds of buses had lined up at Delhi's border with Uttar Pradesh since morning, with Congress leaders protesting at the site.

"At 4 pm, it will be 24 hours since the buses were made available. If you want to use it, do it. Give us permission. If you want to use BJP flags and stickers on buses, then do it. At least let the buses run," Priyanka Gandhi said in a video message released to the media.

"Otherwise, they will be sent back but the Congress and its workers will continue to help the migrants with food and all possible help," she said, speaking shortly before the "4 pm deadline".

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attacked the Congress leader. "If she's (Priyanka Gandhi) really focused about the UP government, she should see why 300 trains arrived in UP, when not even seven arrived in Chhattisgarh. Don't want to politicise this as migrants are Indians and all of us in this extraordinary situation should concentrate and work together," she told news agency ANI.

Uttar Pradesh had held back on permission to allow the buses to run, accusing the Congress of "fraud" by listing autorickshaws, tempos and goods trucks in the name of buses. Late last night, the Yogi Adityanath government filed a First Information report against Priyanka Gandhi's secretary for giving wrong details of the buses.

In a twist to the ugly political fight, a Congress MLA has attacked her own party and sided with the UP government.

"In the hour of crisis, why this petty politics? A list of 1,000 buses was sent, but more than half the buses were fake, 297 were defective, 98 were auto-rickshaws and ambulance-type cars and 68 vehicles were without registration papers. What cruel joke is this? If there were buses, then why not run them in Rajasthan, Punjab and Maharashtra (all Congress-ruled)," Aditi Singh, a Congress MLA from Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The MLA has been suspended from her post in the women's wing and disciplinary action has been started against her, Press Trust of India quoted sources as saying.

Senior Congress leaders argued with the UP police at the border.

"We are here at Priyanka-ji's instance, with around 250 buses. We will be here till 4 pm," Rajeev Shukla told NDTV at the DND flyover in Noida.

"If you say 879 buses are ok, then take those buses? In fact feel free to put BJP flags on them. But don't let the poor migrants walk," said the Congress veteran.

The UP police says the buses cannot be allowed into the state without permission from the administration in Lucknow, since inter-state transport is banned in Noida.

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath agreed on Monday to Priyanka Gandhi's request to allow the Congress to run 1,000 buses for migrants. In a letter, the government asked the Congress leader's office to send details of the buses.

First, the UP government asked that the buses be handed over at state capital Lucknow. After Congress objected, the UP government asked for 500 buses each to be sent to Noida and Ghaziabad that border Delhi. Later, UP raised objections to the list of buses.

Thousands of migrants stranded by the coronavirus lockdown, left jobless in various cities and desperate to go home, have been walking on highways, or cycling or riding on trucks. Many have died in road accidents or from hunger and exhaustion.