Opposition leaders on Thursday slammed the government over its economic package, arguing that the announcements were insensitive towards migrants and full of statistical jugglery.
“The entire press conference of the Finance Minister today was a classic display of arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity,” senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said.
The government is trying to “bamboozle” people by throwing big numbers at them while actually giving nothing to them, he added.
“The Finance Minister said there are 8 crore migrant workers. She said the government has transported 10 lakh people home. What about the 7.9 crore people. Have you left them at the mercy of god?” he asked.
“And what you have offered. you have told them that if you get home, if god is with you. then we will give you 5 kg rice, if you don’t like rice, we will give you 5 kg atta and 1 kg gram for the next two months. If this is not insensitivity, I do not understand the meaning of the word insensitivity.. Out of the Rs 20 lakh crore that you have ostensibly put together. all you have for the migrants whom you call the builders of the nation is Rs 3,500 crore in terms of atta and gram. This is your empathy for the poor,” Tewari said.
Senior leader Anand Sharma said the government has offered “too little money” to support the crores of workers who have lost wages and migrant labourers who have suffered the most. “Shockingly there is no emergency transfer to the states,” he said.
Ahmed Patel, another senior party leader, said, “It’s an empty package wrapped by speeches since the last three days… The government has been trapped by this number of Rs 20 lakh crore. Rather than struggling to reach this target by creative accounting, it is better to work with a reasonable but genuine figure.”
With the government beginning to reveal details of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package, the Congress—which was initially divided in its response— has been shifting gears. The party believes the government is trying to build a political narrative around the package, and the plight of migrants is perhaps the best ammunition it has to target the government.
So, senior leaders of the party came out attacking the government, accusing it of not allocating enough to help workers and migrants.
The Left, too, hit out at the government, arguing that the Finance Minister’s announcements were full of “political rhetoric” and “statistical jugglery”.
“Migrant workers are still on the roads. What is the government doing for them? She is talking about MGNREGA. they have to reach their homes first for that. already the rural poor are demanding increase of MGNREGA wages and increase in working days. there is no mention. There is no mention of urban employment either,” CPI general secretary D Raja said.
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