Rahul Gandhi today hit out at the government for making migrant labourers pay for their train journey home during the coronavirus lockdown and raised questions on the railways contributing Rs 151 crore to the PM-Cares fund for COIVD-19 relief at the same time. Since Friday, the government has been running special trains for stranded migrants to travel to their home states.
"On the one hand, the railways is charging ticket fare from migrant workers stranded in various states of the country, on the other hand, the Ministry of Railways is donating Rs 151 crore in PM-CARES Fund. Solve this puzzle!" Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.
Official sources said the government was already subsidising 85 per cent of the ticket fare and that it was up to the states to bear the remaining cost of the ticket. The centre, they said, was already bearing the cost of running the trains half empty to ensure social distancing, and also of doctors, safety and railway staff.
The government's move to charge train fare from migrants and make states to collect that payment is the latest flashpoint between the government and the opposition.
Earlier today, Rahul Gandhi's mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi hit out at the government and said her party would pay the train fare for migrants, the "backbone of our economy" and "the ambassadors of our nation's growth".
Government sources said the Congress declaration was just for appearances.
The Home Ministry, in a May 1 order, allowed the movement of migrant workers, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places through special trains.