Migrant workers worried about welfare plans as Kejriwal remains in jail

Published - May 03, 2024 07:12 pm IST

Autorickshaw driver Chinmoy Mondal chuckled at the state of politics in the country as he passed through Josip Broz Tito Marg in the Capital and came across saffron flags installed to celebrate the inauguration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, and newly pasted posters against the incarceration of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

With the voting for the Lok Sabha election set for May 25 in Delhi, while INDIA bloc partners — Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress — have promised a slew of welfare programmes besides vowing to “save democracy”, the ruling BJP at the Centre is banking on the inauguration of the Ram temple and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Twenty-nine-year-old Mr. Mondal said he had arrived in Delhi from his native place in West Bengal’s Malda due to AAP’s “progressive politics” four years ago.

He said Mr. Kejriwal’s arrest in a money laundering case last month shocked him as he is a sitting Chief Minister.

The painter-turned-auto driver also disapproved of the communal politics, which he said has found traction in a metropolis like Delhi.

“In the four past years, I have realised that like the BJP, they [AAP] do not instigate violence against the minorities,” he added.

Ramesh Mahto, a construction worker from Dhanbad district of Jharkhand, said while the hope for better earnings was the determining factor behind his decision to move to the Capital, AAP’s promise of better education for children was enticing.

“We are poor and will have to make a living through manual labour only, but I wanted this to change for my children,” said 34-year-old Mr. Mahto.

He, however, is happy now as his children go to a Delhi government school and can write in English.

Meanwhile, the arrest of the Delhi Chief Minister in a corruption case weighs heavily on the minds of migrant labourers, who are now worried about the continuation of AAP government’s welfare programmes.

“Our landlord had installed a government meter due to which we get free electricity. Women can take free bus rides and the poor now send their children to good government schools,” said Basantpur resident Chandni Bibi, who is now anxious if these facilities would continue as before in the event of the CM not getting out of jail anytime soon.

The 32-year-old woman, who had migrated from Bihar’s Darbhanga region along with his husband, said after the announcement of the Mukhyamantri Mahila Samman Yojana, under which women above the age of 18 are entitled to receive ₹1,000 per month as stipend, she has been trying to convince her sister to move to the city.

“If the BJP comes to power at the Centre, it will further crush the ruling AAP as its main leaders are already in jail. This would result in the discontinuation of the welfare scheme and make Delhi expensive for us,” added Ms. Bibi.

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