The government’s move to allow stranded migrant labourers to go home has been spurred by concerns about a political fallout, sources have told NDTV. The issue was flagged at a recent meeting between BJP chief JP Nadda and the party’s MPs and MLAs, after which the government relaxed its decision of not allowing inter-state travel, the sources added.
The government had issued a set of guidelines today for the movement of all stranded people, migrant labourers, students and tourists, and asked states to follow up with the formation of nodal authorities.
For over five weeks since the lockdown was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, thousands of migrant labourers have been stranded across the country. Their plight has been a key area of concern as thousands of them, in absence of regular income and sometimes even food and shelter, started making their way back to their villages on foot after the lockdown started.
Over the following weeks, as interstate movement was stopped, many went hungry despite the government’s assurances of food and shelter, reports from various parts of the country showed.
“The BJP leaders gave a detailed feedback to central leadership, saying the migrant crisis will damage us politically, sources told NDTV today.
“After the meeting, which was also attended by Central ministers, the Prime Minister and the home minister took a considered opinion,” they said, pointing to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who had been the first off the block.
Uttar Pradesh transferred more than 12,000 migrant labourers from Haryana over the weekend. The Centre had given clearance for the move, which irked Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, a BJP ally.
The situation of the migrants has been repeatedly highlighted by the opposition Congress. “We must have a broad framework of protection of migrants, we must insist that migrants are protected,” the Congress’s Rahul Gandhi had said during a Zoom conference with his party leaders over the weekend.