Opposition parties need to take to the streets to highlight the condition of migrant labourers and poor people since the government is “deaf and blind” to their suffering, former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha tweeted Saturday morning. The former BJP leader said “petitioning and statementbazi (political grandstanding)” would not help the economically weaker sections of the country.
Mr Sinha’s pithy comment comes a day after interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi chaired a virtual meeting of 22 opposition parties to review the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and migrant crisis, following which a charter of demands was released.
“Opposition parties should hit the streets instead of petitioning the government, which is deaf and blind to the suffering of the poor. Mere statementbazi will not suffice any more,” Yashwant Sinha, a strong critic of the Narendra Modi government, said.
Opposition parties shd hit the streets instead of petitioning the govt which is deaf and blind to the suffering of the poor. Mere statementbazi will not suffice any more.
— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) May 23, 2020
Earlier this week Mr Sinha was detained by Delhi Police after sitting on a dharna at Rajghat to demand that armed forces be called in to help migrant workers reach their homes.
Lakhs of migrant workers, daily labourers and people from economically weaker sections have been badly hit by the coronavirus lockdown, which has robbed them of jobs and left them without food, money or shelter.
Migrants, doubly hit because the shutdown in public transport, have been forced to walk hundreds of kilometres home, with dozens dying along the way.
Amid mounting criticism, the government responded by providing food rations and special trains to take them home, but with complaints of delayed (and sometimes cancelled) trains and terrible hygiene and treatment, thousands continue to try and walk home.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been among political leaders most vocal in demanding the government help the migrants.
Like Mr Sinha, Mr Gandhi took to the streets this week – he stopped to talk to migrants near Delhi’s Sukhdev Vihar flyover, an interaction Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman dismissed as “dramabaazi (theatrics)”.
Writing for NDTV this week, Mr Sinha hit out at the government for ignoring their plight and described the Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus as a “flawed, fraud” package.
“The Finance Minister was so heartless she did not even mention the migrant workers in her first presser and when she did mention some pittance for them in the second, she did not condole their deaths in road accidents, on a train track, or out of sheer exhaustion after reaching their destination,” Mr Sinha wrote.
“Their suffering is heart-rending, their pain unbearable and their plight unacceptable,” he said in a powerfully-worded critique of the government.