Lashing out at the Congress’s criticism of the government over the plight of migrant workers , Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday accused the party of indulging in “dramebaazi” or theatrics in sitting with workers on the roads rather than directing the State governments to work with the Centre to send more migrants home by train.
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On Saturday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had been filmed sitting on the pavement and talking with migrant workers returning to their home States as they passed through a south Delhi neighbourhood.
“It would have been better if he had walked with them while carrying their children and luggage,” Ms. Sitharaman said in response to a question at a press conference on the stimulus package. “Was it not ‘dramebaazi’ to sit and waste the time of migrants who were walking on the roads?” Instead of playing politics, the Congress leadership should direct its State governments and those led by its allies to work together with the Centre, she said.
“The States led by the Congress governments should be asking for more trains to send migrants back to their homes,” said the Finance Minister. “I fold my hands in front of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and request her to deal with these issues in a responsible way.”
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The Congress reacted sharply to Ms. Sitharaman’s outburst, accusing her of not offering any solace in form of cash transfers and instead labelling them as “dramebaaz”. “Do you find the helplessness of the migrant workers ‘dramebaazi’? Are the blisters on their feet theatrics,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked in a video message.
He pointed out that 135 labourers had died during the lockdown. “Rahul Gandhi had gone to share the pain of the migrant workers. If doing that is a crime, then we will continue it. If trying to shake a deaf and blind government out of a reverie is a crime, then we shall continue doing it,” he said, adding that the Congress asked the BJP government to apologise to the migrant workers for causing them endless suffering.