A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the opposition of scaring migrant workers into fleeing to their native states from Mumbai during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Tuesday hit back claiming the PM’s fixation with the ‘Namaste Trump’ event was responsible for the coronavirus spread in the country.
In February 2020, the then US President Donald Trump had visited India and also addressed a public gathering at a stadium in Ahmedabad as part of the ‘Namaste Trump’ event.
Modi said in the Lok Sabha on Monday that the Congress ”crossed all limits” during the COVID-19 pandemic, and accused the party of instigating and scaring innocent labourers into fleeing to their native states from Mumbai.
Malik, who is also the NCP’s chief spokesperson, on Tuesday said, “When the Maharashtra government was asking for a ban on international flights, your (PM Modi’s) own health minister (Dr Harsh Vardhan at that time) was stressing that the coronavirus infection will not spread.” ”Modi, in his fixation with the ‘Namaste Trump’ event, invited people from across the globe to India and it spread the coronavirus infection in all parts of the country,” he claimed.
“Prime Minister Modi is responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in the country,” Malik alleged.
The Congress currently shares power with the Shiv Sena and NCP in Maharashtra.
“You (Modi) said that we paid for the tickets of migrants. It is true, but you organised the special trains and we paid for the tickets. We bore the cost of train tickets because you wanted to collect money from the migrant labourers and workers,” Malik claimed.
After the nationwide lockdown in 2020, the Indian Railways ran Shramik Special trains for the migrant workers.
“When the migrant workers were walking to their native places, the Uttar Pradesh government had deployed buses for the first time to help the workers reach home. The Bihar government had also done the same. When the lockdown was imposed, you asked people to clang thalis,” the NCP leader pointed out.
He further said that Modi had announced the lockdown ”without any consideration or thinking about consequences of the decision. ”Crores of people suffered because of such a decision,” he said.
“The Maharashtra government provided food, water and even paid for their (migrant workers) tickets. You did not provide the train service free of cost,” Malik said. “We even operated special bus services for the migrant workers so that they could reach their native places. We were the ones who stood by the migrant workers,” the minister said.