In a viral video, a Congress MLA, Amarinder Raja Warring, could be seen telling migrant workers leaving for Bihar’s Muzaffarpur from the Bhatinda Railway station in Punjab via special Shramik train, that the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi had paid for their tickets. He was also accompanied by other Congress supporters.
In the said video that is now viral on social media, the MLA was seen handing out pamphlets through windows that read, “Mushkil daur mein Congress ne hi haath thama.” It loosely translates as “It is the Congress (party) that has held your hands in such a difficult time.”
BJP will lose out on the propaganda war of Congress!!— L̶o̶n̶e̶ Crusader 🇮🇳 (@seriousfunnyguy) May 11, 2020
We will keep thumping our chest on Social Media but these workers will be even telling their next generation, Sonia Gandhi and Congress party paid for their train tickets. Arrest these Rascals for spreading misinformation pic.twitter.com/I9SxgNk90Y
Besides, he and the other Congress workers could be heard saying, “Sonia Gandhi paid for your tickets. Congress, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh are the ones sending you home. Read the pamphlet in your leisure time. Everything is written here.” Reportedly, the MLA from Gidderbaha had also delivered a politically motivated speech from the tower of the railway station prior to the departure of the train. He reiterated, “Congress has paid for your tickets.”
Congress MLA claims they are paying for the ‘tickets’
When asked about the incident, Amarinder Raja Warring reportedly said, “Congress has made coordination committees for sending our migrant brothers and sisters to their home states. I am chairman of this committee in Malwa, hence I came to send them off. If we are paying for their tickets and NDA is not doing anything, we need to tell them”
Following a statement made by the Ferozepur railway division stating that the Indian Railways paid 85% of the fare, Warring stated that he was unaware of any subsidies and Congress was paying 100% of the ticket fare.
50 special trains had carried over 50,000 migrant workers from Punjab to various states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Jharkhand since May 5. But, it was the first time that a political party reached the station to ‘see off’ the passengers.
Political campaign by Congress and clarification by Railways
Amidst this raging controversy over the cost of ferrying stranded migrant labourers back home, All India Railway Federation had written a letter on May 7 to the Congress interim president, Sonia Gandhi requesting her not to play politics over the migrants’ rail fare. The letter clarified that Railways had subsidised 85% of ticket fare for special trains being run to transport migrant workers and the state government had to pay the remaining 15%.
Passengers of the Shramik Special trains do not have to buy tickets as the state governments concerned coordinate and pay for the tickets. As these are not regular trains, but special trains which run on the request of state government, there is no provision to buy tickets for those trains. The respective state governments book the trains by making the payment as charged by the Indian Railways, and the passengers do not have to pay anything.
The central government is paying 85% of the cost that is incurred per passenger to run this train and 15% of the cost is meant to be borne by the state government. Hence, ideally, the state is supposed to make good on that 15% payment through their coffers. However, if the state decides to charge the migrant workers, the only party to be blamed for that is the state government and not the central government. The central government itself it not charging the passengers or selling tickets.