Centre allows Gujarat & UP to mobilise buses but turns down similar request by Jharkhand

BJP-ruled Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have had no problem in getting permission for return of their pilgrims, students and migrant workers. But opposition ruled states have had no such luck

Centre allows Gujarat & UP to mobilise buses but turns down similar request by Jharkhand

VP Sharan

State governments in opposition ruled states are at the receiving end of growing unrest. Anger is mounting among workers and students stranded in other parts of the country for the governments’ failure to ensure their return. On the other hand, a growing number of people are asking why they are unable to mobilise buses as BJP-ruled states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand have done.

All three BJP-ruled states mobilized hundreds of buses to ferry stranded pilgrims, students and workers back home from other states. Why not a revenue rich state like Jharkhand?

The mystery lies in the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution (Item no. 81), point out observers, which lays down that the Union Government would have exclusive power to regulate inter-state migration of people. The states would however require an authorisation from the Centre.

So, while Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand were granted such permission by the Centre, Jharkhand’s request was turned down despite pleas by the chief minister, other ministers and Congress leaders. While BJP ruled states are benefitting from extra-constitutional favours being showered on them, states ruled by Congress and its allies are facing all kinds of obstacles in dealing with the Corona crisis.

Jharkhand Government sources confirmed that despite the chief minister’s SOS and a host of ministers writing to the Centre to help Jharkhand bring back its migrant labourers and students stranded in other states, the Centre has refused to allow Jharkhand administration to help nearly eight lakh migrant workers and 2000 students stranded in different states in the wake of the nationwide lockdown.

The Congress High Command in New Delhi also took up the issue with the Central Government but hit a wall. AICC General Secretary in charge of Jharkhand, R.P.N. Singh informed ministers and legislators of the Centre’s refusal.

As many as 7.87 lakh migrant workers from Jharkhand are stuck in different parts of the country, says the Corona Control Room in Ranchi, set up to receive distress calls from the stranded. On Saturday the Control room received 23 thousand calls from across the country. As many as six and a half thousand calls were received from Maharashtra alone.

Two thousand and seven hundred calls were received from Gujarat, two thousand four hundred from Tamil Nadu and nearly two thousand from Karnataka. Officials plead helplessness. “We listen to the heart-breaking stories of hunger and misery, record details but are unable to assure them of any assistance,” they confided.

The mulish stand of the Centre is not winning the Prime Minister or the BJP any friends in Jharkhand. The PM’s exuberance over ‘cooperative federalism’ and the PMO and chief ministers working as ‘Team India’ to ‘resolve differences and achieve a jointly defined national interest’ are being increasingly dismissed as bogus.

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Published: 21 Apr 2020, 8:00 AM