Poll strategist and former Janata Dal United (JDU) leader Prashant Kishor tore into Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today for abandoning "hundreds of poor people from Bihar" trapped in Delhi and other parts of the country amid a nationwide lockdown to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In his tweet Mr Kishor, who was expelled from the JDU in January after openly criticising Nitish Kumar over the controversial citizenship law, pointed out that governments all over the world were trying to help their people and said Bihar residents had been trapped "because of Nitish Kumarji".
"Hundreds of poor people of Bihar in Delhi and other places are locked down, trapped because of Nitish Kumarji. When governments all over are helping their people, why is the Bihar government not (helping) these people (or) arranging some immediate relief?" Prashant Kishor asked.
"Shame on Nitish Kumar," Mr Kishor added.
On Tuesday Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a "total lockdown" of the country starting midnight. This translates into the sealing of all state borders and the shutting down of all public transport, including interstate buses, the railways and the metro, and grounding of all flights.
As states, including Delhi, began to lock down their respective borders, migrant workers rushed to get back to their home states, with heart-breaking tales emerging.
On Tuesday, a young boy unable to return to Bihar broke down and cried while speaking to NDTV. "I want to go home," he said, tears streaming down his face. He carried a rucksack with his belongings, like he had for three or four days, hoping to catch a bus home.
A construction worker and a daily-wage earner, he, like tens of thousands of others, have been left stranded far from their families and home states.
आनंद विहार बस अड्डे से बड़ी संख्या में मजदूर तपके के लोग पैदल जा रहे हैं,दिल्ली से वापस अपने घर जाना चाहते हैं,लेकिन जाने का कोई साधन नहीं,न जेब में पैसा है ,एक लड़का काफी रो रहा है कह रहा है पुलिस मारने के लिए दौड़ती है,हम कहाँ जाएं#lockdownindia#Corinnaviruspic.twitter.com/Cw5buZIzVP— Mukesh singh sengar मुकेश सिंह सेंगर (@mukeshmukeshs) March 24, 2020
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav picked up on his story and urged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to organise food and shelter for the boy. It is not yet known if such arrangements were made.
Dear @NitishKumar ji, Kindly communicate with Delhi Govt or @HMOIndia to make immediate arrangement for this innocent guy.— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) March 24, 2020
Likewise, setup a centralized helpline for all those who are stranded outside Bihar& liaise with respective govts to make arrangements for their stay & food. https://t.co/FWxrIoEvns
Others from Bihar were luckier - last week four trains left the Mumbai-Pune region last week carrying thousands of Bihar residents, including hundreds of students.
The Prime Minister urged all Indians to stay inside their homes and only leave for in case of absolute emergencies. He said "social distancing" - keeping a safe distance from others - was the only way to stop the chain of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
He had also urged people last week to "stay in whichever city you are" to minimise the virus' spread.
As fears over the virus spreading grow and the centre and state ramp up efforts to contain the illness, there is also panic over availability of essential goods, something governments at all levels have repeatedly sought to assure.
This morning both Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar made such promises; Mr Kejriwal had earlier announced that 72 lakh people left homeless as a result of the virus and lockdown would be given free rations.
Earlier today Mr Kishor also took a swipe at PM Modi over his decision to lockdown the country for three weeks, suggesting it was a "bit too long" and could have been shorter had the government reacted swiftly in the early days of the crisis.
India has nearly 600 active cases of COVID-19 and at least 10 deaths have been linked to the virus. Worldwide the virus, which originated in China's Wuhan district in December last year, has killed over 16,300 people and infected over 3.75 lakh others.