Migration in Bihar is a household strategy as lakhs of people from the state move to other states in search of livelihood due to poor infrastructure in the state.
The frustration of migrants from Bihar residing in different parts of the country with the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar administration appears to be growing with each passing day. While the entire country is facing its worst migrant crises ever, the situation of those from Bihar is extremely distraught. Having travelled out of their homes in large numbers over the decades, they now face a challenge of both life as well as livelihood. And Nitish Kumar, it appears, is facing the brunt of it.
With transport services suspended, many migrants have left from cities like Mumbai, Delhi on their own. While a few are walking, many are lucky to have to undertake their journey on bicycles and autorickshaws.
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A group of five such workers was spotted in Lucknow who were heading towards their hometown in Madhubani in an auto rickshaw. News agency ANi reported that they worked in Mumbai but are left with no money and ration and were forced to leave. They began their journey from Mumbai in an auto and have already covered hundreds of kms.
Migrants said that they waited for more than two months, expecting help from the Nitish Kumar government but were left to their fate.
“I work as a food delivery executive. We waited for two months. When we realised that Nitish Kumar won’t do anything we decided to take up this journey,” Dhananjay Kumar told news agency ANI while on the way to his home in Madhubani.
According to an estimate, there are around 45,000 black and yellow cabs and 5 lakh auto rickshaws in Mumbai. The number of ‘kaali peeli’ taxis and autos leaving the city in the last few weeks have been pegged at around 1000 and 5000, respectively.
Just a few days ago, a video went viral on social media platforms wherein daily wagers stranded in Tamil Nadu were abusing CM Nitish for not helping them during the lockdown.
Majority of the migrants who are forced to undertake journeys for their native places from cities like Mumbai and Delhi hail from states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Although the Uttar Pradesh government has been arranging buses to bring back the migrants since March 25, the Bihar government categorically denied arranging buses or special vehicles to ferry them back, citing its incapability to make arrangements to transport large numbers of migrants.
Even as CM Nitish Kumar and his government claim to be doing everything within their means to help migrant workers, the issue has snowballed into a full-blown crisis as opposition leaders launched a no-holds-barred attack against the Bihar government.
While opposition leaders are leaving no stone unturned to gain mileage and pin down Nitish Kumar in an election year, there are many from the ruling alliance who have openly said that Nitish was hurting the coalition’s prospects in the Assembly election scheduled for October-November this year.
The Nitish Kumar government told the Centre that it was facing difficulties due to the strict lockdown rules that barred vehicles from plying on the road and demanded running special trains. RJD, the principal opposition party saw an opportunity in this and announced that it will arrange 2,000 buses to ferry migrants and pay train fare, pushing the Nitish Kumar government on the backfoot.
Even though special trains are bringing back thousands of migrants, the Nitish Kumar government faces another major challenge to accommodate them, providing employment, shelter and food besides ensuring that the coronavirus crisis is not allowed to explode in a state riddled with a below average healthcare infrastructure.