Reiterating his appeal to people to stay indoors, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Sunday urged everyone to rise above political differences and ensure no one has to go hungry due to the lockdown and restrictions on economic activities.
Without naming any party, Kejriwal asked AAP volunteers to not get into squabbles and focus on serving people in distress.
दिल्ली से अपने गाँव जा रहे लोगों से मेरी अपील। pic.twitter.com/VTOGZVZFkh
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) March 29, 2020
The BJP-led Uttar Pradesh government had Saturday accused AAP of creating a situation that forced migrants to leave the capital. This prompted a sharp response from Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who called the allegations petty and ridiculous.
“Yesterday, an opposition party had levelled certain allegations against us. We should not get into any form of squabbling. If we are told about shortcomings, we need to rectify. When confronted with such allegations, put the record straight politely. If you are still abused, just ignore. The need of the hour is to save this country and serve its people,” he said, pointing to the alarming spread of COVID-19 in countries such as Italy, UK and USA.
What started as a trickle out of the city had turned into a flood of migrants on Saturday, as thousands headed to their villages, mostly in UP, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Kejriwal pointed out how other states — Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh Haryana and Punjab, among others — have also been witnessing similar scenes: “I appeal to them — when the PM had announced the lockdown, he had made one statement — ‘jo jahan hai, wo wohi rahe’. This, I believe, is the mantra. If we fail to stick to it, the fight against coronavirus will fail.”
“Those returning should know they run the risk of contracting the virus from someone in the crowd. If one such person contracts the virus, he will take it to his village. The villages are still unaffected. If this spreads, controlling it will be very difficult,” he said.
The CM once again listed the arrangements made by the AAP government in terms of food and lodging for migrants. He said many schools where facilities have been put together are now lying empty.
“We will also make arrangements at stadiums. I also want to appeal to those with wealth, the industrialists — this is the time to give back to society. We earn all our lives but at the end, nothing matters. What matters is what we give back. Please don’t let anyone starve,” he said.
Kejriwal added that the government will not hesitate to act against landlords evicting tenants over rent or forcing them to pay.
“Postpone their rents for some time. After a month or two, when things get better, I assure you if a tenant is unable to pay rent due to poverty, the government will bear the loss,” said the AAP chief.
Kejriwal also made a “personal” appeal to people to make good use of the lockdown period and recite the Bhagavad Gita:
“If you are a true desh bhakt, the biggest desh bhakti is staying at home. The Bhagavad Gita has 18 chapters and the lockdown has 18 days left. Since yesterday, we at home, the entire family, have started reading it. It takes half an hour. If you’re so inclined, you can too.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines