Hitting out at the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress and Samajwadi Party termed the death of 24 migrant workers as a "murder", while the BSP asked the party in power to ensure the safety of migrants trying to return home amid the lockdown.
The Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress accused the state government of being insensitive towards the plight of migrant workers and demanded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's resignation over the incident.
At least 24 migrant workers were killed and 36 injured when a trailer rammed into a stationary truck, both carrying passengers, on a highway near Auraiya in Uttar Pradesh in the early hours of Saturday.
Some of the workers coming from Delhi had stopped for tea when the accident occurred between 3 am and 3.30 am on the Auraiya-Kanpur Dehat stretch of National Highway 19, police said.
Most of those killed were from Jharkhand and West Bengal, and some from Kushinagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, officials said.
In a tweet, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav expressed giref over the deaths and prayed for the injured.
"Let's see for how long those heartless people and their supporters would justify this negligence despite knowing everything. These are not deaths but murder," Mr Yadav said.
He also announced that his party would give Rs 1 lakh to the family of each of the deceased.
"The news of the death of migrant labourers while returning homes is heart-wrenching. These are the people who run their homes. Hence, the Samajwadi Party will give Rs 1 lakh to the family of each of the deceased," Mr Yadav said.
He accused the BJP-led state government of being "pitiless" and urged it to take moral responsibility for the incident.
"The pitiless BJP government must take moral responsibility, and provide Rs 10 lakh to each of the family of the deceased," Mr Yadav said.
Bahujan Samaj Party president Mayawati asked Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to ensure that his directives on the safety of stranded labourers returning home were being implemented by the officials.
She asked parties in power at the centre and different states to rise above petty politics in this hour of crisis and ensure the safety of the migrants trying to make their way home amid the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
"It was only yesterday that I saw the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister announcing on TV that all necessary arrangements for migrants are being made. But it seems that officials are not implementing those at ground level which led to a major accident in the state and this is most unfortunate," Mayawati said in a statement.
Had the officials made arrangements for their food and other things they would not have got down at a tea stall in Auraiya, she said demanding strict action against the officials who have failed to fulfil their responsibility.
The BSP chief also asked the Central and state governments and the Railways to be serious over the issue of sending migrants home safely.
"The BJP and Congress are levelling charges against each other. Politics in the name of migrant labourers is not right. Congress governments in states should take care of this issue in their states. Labourers of Punjab and Haryana crossing the river in Saharanpur to reach home. Be it the Congress or BJP government they should send migrants home safely. But they are not paying attention to it," Mayawati said.
She also appealed to migrant labourers not to try to reach home on foot, instead wait for buses and trains.
"Instead of walking home, they should go to the nearest railway station. Then the government will be forced to make arrangements for them," she said.
UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu too said that it was "not an accident, but murder."
"The chief minister should resign. This government is insensitive towards the (plight of) migrant labourers. Where have all the buses gone, which the UP Government claims have been pressed into service to send the migrant labourers home? The entire country is seeing this," he told PTI.
"The accident is very unfortunate and saddening. I express condolence for the loss of lives, and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured persons," the state Congress chief said.
Mr Lallu also said, "Yesterday, the UP chief minister had said that buses have been pressed into service so that migrant labourers can reach their homes. He has been saying this for some time, but then who is responsible for this accident. The chief minister is responsible for the accident."
The UP government meted out inhuman treatment to the migrant labourers by compelling them to walk home, he said and demanded Rs 20 lakh ex gratia for the kin of the deceased and Rs 5 lakh to the injured.