Updated: June 10, 2020 7:18:08 pm
A day after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said Mamata Banerjee had “insulted” migrants by calling ‘Shramik Special’ trains as “Corona Express”, the West Bengal Chief Minister denied the allegations and and insisted the name was given by the people.
“More than 11 lakh migrants have returned to Bengal. I never called the migrant special trains ‘Corona Express’. It was the common people who gave them that name. Migrant crisis happened due to unplanned lockdown,” she said.
The TMC supremo’s reaction came a day after Shah, addressing a virtual rally ahead of the Bengal elections next year, asserted that migrant workers would ensure the “exit” of her government in the 2021 assembly polls.
“Mamata Ji, you referred to Shramik Special Trains as ‘Corona Express’. The name that you have given, ‘Corona Express’ will become an exit express for TMC. You’ve insulted migrant workers, you’ve rubbed salt into their wounds and they will not forget it,” news agency PTI reported.
Earlier in May, Shah had reportedly written to Banerjee, accusing the state government of not allowing ‘Shramik trains’ run by the Railways to reach the state. The Centre also alleged that it was not getting enough support from the Bengal government for running the migrant trains.
Banerjee said her reason for initially stopping the migrant trains was “misunderstood”. “The train services had been kept closed because of one reason — so that people are not packed closely into a small space as the infection may spread,” she said, adding that the Railways had not paid any heed to the social distancing norms while transferring the migrants.
Blaming the Centre for the plight of the migrants, Banerjee said, “If you had for run the Shramik Express trains for seven days and sent them home before announcing lockdown, then these labourers would not have suffered for three months”.
The Centre, she said, should learn from the state in this matter. “The migrants here did not want to go anywhere,” the Chief Minister said.
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