The pain and tears of desperate migrants forced to walk thousands of kilometres was felt by everyone in the country but not the government, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said today in a video message. She urged the government to "unlock" its funds and help the country's poorest, hit by the coronavirus lockdown.
"For the past two months, the entire country has been going through serious financial crises including loss of livelihood caused by the lockdown," Sonia Gandhi said in the statement released by the Congress as part of a "Speak Up India" campaign.
"For the first time since independence, you saw the painful sight of lakhs of migrants, barefoot, hungry, thirsty, with no means of transport, walking thousands of km to reach home. Their pain, their cries were heard by every heart in the country. But not the government."
The Congress president said every poor family should be given Rs 7,500 a month for six months, with Rs 10,000 in cash straightaway, and 200 days of work under the job guarantee scheme MGNREGA, reiterating a demand made by opposition parties last week after their first online meeting to discuss the coronavirus crisis.
Mrs Gandhi also urged the government to provide safe and free travel for migrants desperate to go home.
"Crores of jobs have been lost, lakhs of businesses have crashed, factories have shut down, farmers' crops are unsold, the entire country saw the suffering, yet the government could not get any sense of it," the Congress president said.
"Since Day 1, my Congress colleagues, economists, social scientists and leading voices in the country have repeatedly told the government that this is the time to heal wounds, help migrants, farmers and small businessmen hit by the pandemic," she said, adding, "I don't know why the centre is refusing to listen or do this."