Congress will pay for rail travel of migrant workers, says Sonia Gandhi

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The State units of the Congress or the Pradesh Congress Committees (PCC) will bear the cost of rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labour, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said in a statement on Monday.

She called it ‘disturbing’ that the Railways and the Union government were charging the migrants even for distress travel when it could spend nearly ₹100 crores on a public programme in Gujarat, a veiled attack on the Namaste Trump programme to welcome U.S. President Donald Trump.

“What is particularly disturbing is that the Central government and the Rail Ministry are charging them for train tickets in this hour of crisis,” Ms. Gandhi said in a statement.

“The Indian National Congress has, therefore, taken a decision that every Pradesh Congress Committee shall bear the cost for the rail travel of every needy worker and migrant labourer and shall take necessary steps in this regard.”

Questioning the responsibility of the Union government, the Congress chief said there were lakhs of migrant workers who were ‘languishing’ in different parts of the country with neither food nor money to travel.

“Post the Partition of 1947, this is the first time India witnessed a tragedy with such a massive human cost as thousands of migrant workers and labourers were forced to walk home several hundred kilometres on foot — without food, without medicines, without money, without transportation, without anything except for the desire to return to their families and loved ones. The very thought of their plight is enough to break our hearts as there was also the outpouring of support from fellow Indians for their inspiring resolve,” she said.

‘Ambassadors of nation’s growth’

“Our workers and labourers are the ambassadors of our nation’s growth. When our government can recognise its responsibility by arranging free air travel for our citizens stranded abroad, when the government can spend nearly ₹100 crores on transport and food etc. for just one public programme in Gujarat, when the Rail Ministry has the largesse to donate ₹151 crores to the PM’s Corona fund, then why can’t these essential members of our nation’s fabric be given a fraction of the same courtesy, especially free rail travel, at this hour of acute distress,” asked Ms. Gandhi.

The Congress chief stated that by making a “humble contribution” the Congress would stand “shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with the workers”.

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