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Government not hearing pain, cries of migrant workers: Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. File

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Launching a “Speak Up India” campaign, she asks govt to pay ₹7,500 for six months to poor families.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday accused the Union government of not hearing the pain and the cries of the poor migrant workers and appealed to the Centre to ‘unlock its treasury’ to tide over the difficulties faced by them because of the lockdown to flatten the coronavirus [COVID-19] curve.

Launching a “Speak Up India” campaign on social media platforms, Ms. Gandhi asked the government to transfer ₹7,500 to the poor families for the next six months, pay immediately ₹10,000, ensure free transport of migrant workers, free ration and provision of 200 days of employment under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to them in villages where they had returned.

Ms. Gandhi alleged that while the entire nation could feel the agony and pain of the migrant workers, the Union government could not.

In a video message posted on the Congress’s official Twitter handle, she stated that after Independence, India had witnessed for the first time such large-scale migration of people where workers were forced to walk thousands of kilometres without food, water or medicines. “Their pain, agony and sobs were heard and felt by every heart but not the government,” she said in a message in Hindi.

Online petitions

Crores of jobs had been lost, lakhs of businesses destroyed, factories shut and farmers were running hassled to sell their produce, she said. “The whole country has experienced this pain but the government perhaps does not have any idea about it.” She urged party leaders, supporters, sympathisers to ‘speak up’ as the party plans to generate over 50 lakh online petitions to put pressure on the government for direct cash transfer.

Former party chief Rahul Gandhi, in a separate video, said the COVID-19 storm had hit the poor, migrant labourers and micro, small and medium business enterprises (MSMEs) the hardest.

Lockdown displaces lakhs of migrants

“Loans will not help, today people need money. That’s why, we in the Congress have made four demands: put ₹7,500 monthly for the next six months, MGNREGA should offer 200 days work, prepare a package for MSMEs immediately and make arrangements for ferrying our migrant brothers immediately,” he said.

A host of Congress leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel also took part in the online campaign.

Leaders’ appeal

Senior party leader Anand Sharma tweeted, “India has let down its poor. Their plight and desperate struggle to survive has been a humanitarian tragedy. The images of this struggle to stay alive shall forever remain a painful scar on the soul of the nation. #SpeakUpIndia”.

MGNREGA jobs crash to 1% of normal | Fund crunch hits MGNREGA scheme

Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram also made a video appeal for an immediate cash transfer of ₹10,000 to poor families.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 2:19:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sonia-launches-speak-up-india-campaign-asks-govt-to-pay-7500-for-six-months-to-poor-families/article31693622.ece

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