The state BJP unit claimed the West Bengal government is only interested in bringing back people from a "particular community".
The ruling TMC in West Bengal and opposition BJP on Saturday traded barbs over ferrying migrant labourers, after Union Home Minister Amit Shah flagged the issue of “non-cooperation” by the state government, leaving the Mamata Banerjee-led party fuming, which accused him of spreading lies.
In what is certain to escalate tension between the state government and the Centre, Shah, in a letter alleged that West Bengal was not allowing trains with migrant workers to reach and termed it as an “injustice” to these labourers.
The state BJP unit claimed the West Bengal government is only interested in bringing back people from a “particular community”.
TMC leader and nephew of the chief minister, Abhishek Banerjee, earlier in the day tweeted: “A HM failing to discharge his duties during this crisis speaks after weeks of silence, only to mislead people with a bundle of lies! Ironically he’s talking about the very ppl who’ve been literally left to fate by his own Govt. Mr @AmitShah, prove your fake allegations or apologise (sic),”
Party MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar accused the Centre of targeting the chief minister as it can’t “tolerate her”.
“The Centre is lying, eight trains ready to ferry passengers to Bengal from different states. It has no right to say CM Mamata Banerjee is not allowing migrants to come back. 16 migrants died on your watch, will rail minister take responsibility?
“The Centre wants to embarrass our CM and gain politically in the state. They cannot tolerate her and that is why they are targeting us singularly,” she said.
The TMC IT cell also released three letters written by the chief secretary and additional chief secretary to Rajasthan, Karnataka and Kerala, regarding bringing back migrant labourers from those places.
The state government said 6,000 migrant workers have already returned and another 10 trains carrying more from Punjab, Karnataka and Kerala will arrive soon.
The BJP shot back, alleging that most of the funds meant for COVID-19 are being spent on publicity.
“The state government has spent Rs 1,300 crore for local clubs, but only Rs 200 crore for coronavirus crisis, out of which most have been used for publicity. “Two special trains for one particular community have only arrived in Bengal from Ajmer Sharif and Kerala. The state government is only bothered about the suffering of the people from a particular community,” BJP national secretary Rahul Sinh said.
Echoing similar sentiments, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said “lies” of the TMC have been exposed.
Referring to the Shramik Special trains being run to facilitate transportation of held up workers from different parts of the country, Shah had earlier in the day said migrant workers from West Bengal are also eager to reach home, but the Centre was not getting expected support from the state government.
“… We are not getting expected support from West Bengal. The state government is not allowing trains to reach West Bengal. This is injustice to migrant labourers. This will create further hardship for them,” the home minister said.
The Centre has repeatedly criticised the West Bengal government over its handling of the COVID-19 crisis.