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Here is how media’s war on Yogi Adityanath became a headache for Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

The target was Yogi Adityanath. The Congress government of Rajasthan even sent Uttar Pradesh a bill of Rs 36 lakh for helping with arrangements for students to go back from Kota.

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is angry because there are dozens of trains full of migrant workers heading from Maharashtra towards West Bengal. Could this not spread the virus to small towns and villages across her state? How will she manage?

She accuses the Railway Ministry of ‘evacuating Maharashtra’ and spreading the virus to Bengal.

Quite literally a case of blaming the messenger. Why blame the Railway Ministry, Mamata Didi? The Railway is merely running a service between two states.

Of course, Mamata Banerjee’s problem is understandable. She can’t blame Maharashtra, because it is ruled by ‘secular’ parties. And she obviously doesn’t want to take responsibility for her own state.

As someone pointed out to me on Twitter, the railway route from Maharashtra to Bengal doesn’t even cross a single BJP ruled state. From Maharashtra, you go to Chhattisgarh, then Jharkhand and then you arrive in Bengal. No options there.

And just like that, the media’s war on Yogi Adityanath has become a headache for Mamata Banerjee.

How? In the last few weeks, the media has brought us heartbreaking images of migrant workers trying to make it across the country on foot. They highlighted real people and real problems. But as with any media story, there is always an agenda.

Here is a simple question: among all those images and videos, did you see a single migrant worker trying to return to West Bengal?

It seemed like they were all going to Uttar Pradesh. And to a lesser extent, towards Bihar. The first of these states is ruled by Yogi Adityanath, the arch-villain for liberal media. The second state is also NDA ruled and coincidentally faces an election in a few months.

That’s right. They forgot all about West Bengal. Remember Bengal? A few months ago, the media game was all about CAA and NRC. That’s when migrant workers from West Bengal were the big story, all of them supposedly worried about being labeled Bangladeshis. But when the lockdown happened, these same folks suddenly became invisible to the media.

The script was simple. Look at these migrant workers who have lost their jobs in say Maharashtra. They are hungry and desperate. Because they happen to have family in Uttar Pradesh, apparently it is all Yogi Adityanath’s fault.

Why would these migrant workers not be entitled to welfare in the state where they were living and working? Did somebody cancel the fundamental right of Indian citizens to reside and settle in any part of the country? This question does not appear to have come up.

Rather these questions were drowned in the volume of the media fury. The media argued that the migrants “want” to go home.

The target was Yogi Adityanath. The Congress government of Rajasthan even sent Uttar Pradesh a bill of Rs 36 lakh for helping with arrangements for students to go back from Kota.

I’m curious. What if a student from Uttar Pradesh becomes a victim of a crime while in Kota? Will Rajasthan govt also send Uttar Pradesh a bill for the cost of the police investigation?

The migrant crisis created an extreme amount of pressure on the Central government. A number of Shramik Special trains appeared, taking migrant workers back to their home states.

Because I know the liberal media so well, I am certain at least some of them are actively hoping for disaster as lakhs of people return from hotspot states to poorer states such as UP and Bihar.

The danger is apparent to all. And Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee has realized what is happening. Her secular friends have forgotten about her. She can’t hit back at Maharashtra. So she hits out at the Railway.

If you feel bad for Mamata Banerjee here, please don’t. The Coronavirus crisis has made India’s secular parties turn on each other. Only the other day, Rahul Gandhi distanced the Congress from the Maharashtra government, even though he has ten Cabinet ministers in it. The Communist Health Minister of Kerala has gone public with mocking Maharashtra for having slums such as Dharavi.

Right now, in the secular camp, it is each person for themselves. No need to feel bad for them. Just imagine what would have happened if these disparate, warring factions had managed to cobble together a majority after the election last year.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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