TMC Hits Out at Amit Shah Over ‘Migrant Train-Blocking’ Allegation

In a counter response to Amit Shah’s letter, the TMC has denied the Home Minister’s charges, calling them false.

3 min read
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Home Minister Amit Shah. 

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the central government hit out at each other after Home Minister Amit Shah wrote a letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that her government is not allowing trains ferrying migrant workers to reach the state.

In a fresh flashpoint between the Centre and the West Bengal government, the letters written by the state government to Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana dated 3 and 7 May mentioned that West Bengal had granted permission to trains carrying migrant workers.

Reacting to Shah’s letter, TMC MP and Mamata’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, wrote on Twitter, “A home minister failing to discharge his duties during this crisis speaks after weeks of silence, only to mislead people with bundle of lies! Ironically, he’s talking about the very people who’ve been literally left to fate by his own government. Mr Amit Shah, prove your fake allegations or apologise.”

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Speaking at a press conference after the letter was received by the government, TMC spokesperson and MP Derek O' Brien had said:

“The Home Minister has woken up from a deep sleep now. We were wondering whether in these 40 days, did labourers even get one fist of rice? You have cut salaries of government employees. Give answers to these questions first”.

“Not right to say CM Mamata Banerjee not allowing migrants; 16 migrants died on your watch, will rail minister take responsibility?”, other party spokespersons added.

‘State Took Action Only After Shah’s Letter’: Babul Supriyo

Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday, 9 May, had written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that the union government is not getting the state government's support to help migrants reach home.

“Migrants from West Bengal are also eager to reach home. The Central government is facilitating but we are not getting expected support from West Bengal... The state government is not allowing the trains to reach West Bengal. This is injustice with West Bengal migrant labourers. This will create further hardship for them,” the letter reportedly stated.

According to NDTV, Union Minister of State and BJP leader Babul Supriyo said that the state government took action only after Shah’s letter.

Meanwhile, State BJP Chief Dilip Ghosh said that only two trains came to Bengal from two different places and “one of them brought back pilgrims of a political community and not migrant labourers.”

"All earlier letters did not work. So, the home minister has written (one) and the Bengal government is definitely in trouble," he added, NDTV reported.

'Misleading’: WB Govt on Railway Ministry Tweet

Ministry of Railways tweeted on Saturday, “However, WB has not approved any train from Maharashtra, while there is a requirement of 16 trains to WB and presently 6 requests are pending for which approval is still awaited from WB. (sic),”

In another tweet, it sad that the West Bengal government has approved two trains from Punjab, two from Tamil Nadu, three from Karnataka and one from Telangana after Amit Shah’s request.

Soon after, home secretary of the West Bengal government tweeted that the railway ministry’s tweet is misleading and incorrect.

“All the trains mentioned in their tweet were approved and communicated to the concerned States on 8 May (yesterday) or before, no new decision in this regard has been taken today. Further decisions to follow in due course (sic)” it said.

The Union home minister’s letter comes days after the Home Ministry said the West Bengal government was not allowing the movement of international cargo, thereby violating orders issued under the Disaster Management Act.

The "unilateral action" of the West Bengal government to stop cross-border movement of essential goods will have larger implications for the Indian government with regard to its legal binding international commitments, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had written.

Controversy had also erupted over the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) deployed in the state to oversee the lockdown and the COVID-19 situation.

(With inputs from PTI, NDTV)

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