Bitter fight between Piyush Goyal, Uddhav Thackeray over Shramik trains
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal locked horns over Shramik special trains on Sunday. The Shiv Sena chief claimed he asked Centre to send more trains, but the request wasn't entertained. Later, Goyal put out a series of tweets, one of them posted around 2 am, saying Railways hasn't received any list. Here's what went down.
Stuck in other cities, workers started walking home after lockdown
In March, when industries were shut and construction activities halted, because of the coronavirus-necessitated lockdown, migrant workers suffered. Rendered jobless, they wished to get home but were stuck in the absence of transportation. They started walking, some dying on the way. The government finally woke up to the humanitarian crisis and started trains from May 1 to ferry them home.
Centre said states have to agree upon transportation of workers
As the Centre drew ire from all quarters, it put the blame on states. When she was revealing details of the Rs. 20 lakh crore economic package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said sending and receiving states have to arrive at a consensus. The CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, also said states should have done a "much better job". Meanwhile, states flagged their problems.
Maharashtra isn't getting enough trains, claimed Thackeray
In an address to the state, Thackeray declared Maharashtra sought 80 trains from Centre daily for migrant workers but was getting merely 30-40. In 481 trains, over seven lakh migrants were sent home, and the entire cost (Rs. 85 crore) was borne by the state, he said. Soon, Goyal, a member of BJP which was close to forming a government with Shiv Sena, responded.
Will provide trains, you give information: Goyal told Thackeray
In a series of tweets, Goyal asked Thackeray to provide details of passengers, destination stations, health certificates, etc. "This information must be communicated with the General Manager of Central Railways in an hour so we get time to prepare. The trains shouldn't run empty," he wrote. "We are ready to provide 125 Shramik special trains to Maharashtra," another tweet read.
Goyal asked several questions regarding the list
Goyal followed it up with another tweet reading, "Sadly, it has been 1.5 hours but Maharashtra government has been unable to give required information about tomorrow's planned 125 trains to GM of Central Railways." The BJP leader said Railways didn't receive any list 2.5 hours later too. The list wasn't given at 12 midnight, and neither was it handed over at 2 am.
Where's the list for 125 trains, asked Goyal
"Where is the list for 125 trains from Maharashtra? As of 2 am, received a list of only 46 trains of which 5 are to West Bengal and Odisha which cannot operate due to cyclone Amphan," the last tweet of the thread read.
Here are the tweets Goyal posted
Central Railways said Maharashtra government was being inefficient
Meanwhile, the Central Railways also released a press note saying it had to cancel 65 trains because of the lax attitude of Maharashtra government. "Planning trains is an elaborate process, which requires time and unless lists are given in time, Maharashtra government will make it impossible for Railways to run the train," the note read. Thackeray's predecessor Devendra Fadnavis slammed him for blaming Centre.
Ensure trains reach their intended destination, said Raut
Soon, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut also waded into the row saying Maharashtra government handed over a list to Railways. "Piyush Ji there is only one request please ensure that trains should reach stations that they are supposed to reach," he said, referring to the bizarre turn of events where a special train, bound for Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), reached Odisha's Rourkela, some 750 kilometer away.