Nirmala Sitharaman addressed a press conference on Sunday to announce the fifth and last tranche of the economic package designed to lift the country out of the economic crisis unleashed by the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic. During the course of the press conference, the Union Finance Minister made a series of significant announcements related to ease of doing business, health and education.
Apart from the announcements on policy, there was also a flashpoint during the Q&A session when Nirmala Sitharaman lost her temper and things became heated. The flare up occurred when a journalist asked the Finance Minister on the migrants crisis that has erupted across the country in the wake of the lockdown. It has been observed that even after the allocation of Shramik Trains to carry migrants back to their native places, a significant section of them are still preferring to walk home instead.
The journalist mentioned that the Congress party had said that if the central government could not help the migrants reach their homes, then they should be permitted to operate buses which will be used for the purpose. Nirmala Sitharaman became incensed with the conduct of the Congress party. She said that the central government has been providing as much help as is possible. Initially, the migrants were asked to stay where they were and states were directed to arrange their basic necessities and at a later time, Shramik Trains were allocated she said.
Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Railway has said that 1,500 trains are ready to help transport migrants and requisite trains could be arranged within 3 hours after the place is mentioned. She said that even food is being arranged for the migrants. She said that it was a matter of immense sadness that migrants are still on the streets walking home.
The Finance Minister then proceed to attack the Congress party. She said, “Where they have their own state governments, let them ask for more trains, so that more migrants can be seated and sent home. Instead, when they (migrants) are walking home, they waste their time, sit beside them and chat with them. It would have been better if they had carried their luggage and children and walked beside them. I say this with great sadness. Why can’t they ask their state governments to ask for more trains?”
Nirmala Sitharaman said that what happened with the migrants yesterday, with the Congress party sitting and chatting beside the distressed migrants, was ‘drama’. She said, “Was it the time for it? Are they not ‘Dramebaaz’? I request the opposition parties with folded hands to work together to help the migrants.” “Let us speak responsibly, let nus deal with our migrants more responsibly,” she said addressing Congress ‘interim president’ for an indefinite period Sonia Gandhi.
The Migrant Crisis during Coronavirus lockdown
Even after trains have been arranged for the transport of migrants, many are choosing to walk home due to various reasons. Numerous accidents have also occurred where migrants have lost their lives. Despite such tragedies, remarkable insensitivity has been observed not just from politicians but also the media fraternity.
NDTV on Friday posted a video on its Twitter account where the reporter could be heard asking a ‘migrant worker’ crossing the river Yamuna to enter Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh from Haryana’s Kalanaur to ‘walk again’, perhaps for a better footage. The insensitivity of the reporter did not miss the eye of netizens and NDTV received a lot of criticism for its conduct.