Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is abroad for his mother Sonia Gandhi's health check-up, this morning tweeted a sharp retort to the government's response in parliament on Monday about the data of migrants' deaths during coronavirus lockdown.
On Monday, as the 18-day monsoon session of parliament began amid pandemic, over five months after the previous session, Union Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said that centre has no data about the death of migrants during the lockdown that began in March.
"The Modi government does not know how many migrants died during lockdown... how many lost jobs. If you didn't count... did nobody die? The sad part is that the government does not care about the loss of lives. The world saw them dying... Modi government was unaware," Mr Gandhi, 50, tweeted in Hindi.
Lakhs of migrants were left jobless in March when the government declared one of the strictest lockdowns in the world to check the spread of coronavirus. Many of them died while trying to cover journey of hundreds of kilometres, back to their villages from cities, on foot as the transport services remained shut. Heartbreaking visuals had captured their plight.
Mr Gandhi has been attacking the centre over the migrants' plight in his tweets, accusing the government of a poor handling of the outbreak.
In May, when he met some migrants camping at a flyover in Delhi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman derided the move, calling it "draamabazi". "Instead of wasting the time of migrants and sitting with them, walk along with them and carry their suitcase. In Congress-ruled states, request for more trains so that more migrants can reach home," she had said.
Today, Mr Gandhi, the Congress MP from Kerala's Wayanad, yet again launched a fresh attack after the government's statement in parliament.
In the session - the first since the countrywide lockdown was imposed to fight the coronavirus pandemic -- the Union labour ministry was asked whether the government has any data on migrant workers who returned to their states. There is no data on migrant deaths so the "question does not arise" of compensation, the Union labour ministry said, triggering triggered anger and criticism from the opposition.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi left to go abroad last week for the Congress chief's health check-up. They will not attend the first part of the monsoon session of parliament. However, Mr Gandhi continues to attack the centre in his daily tweets.