Patna: A day after Bihar’s ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance leaders attacked Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, blaming him for migrant exodus and spread of coronavirus in Bihar, opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav of Rashtriya Janata Dal to former Janata Dal-United leader and poll strategist Prashant Kishor on Monday targeted Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for his failure to help migrant workers who are struggling to reach their villages following the lockdown.
“It’s over 17 days now since the state government acknowledged COVID-19 as a health crisis and allegedly started containment measures. But situation seems to have worsened. Bihari migrant workers are still stranded, starving and begging for government help. Healthcare workers are pleading for safety equipment, ” RJD leader Tejashwi said here in response to reports of thousands of migrant workers stranded on way to Bihar from Delhi and other places.
Kishor, too, took to social media where he posted a video of migrant labourers locked inside a room, crying and begging to be released. “One more frightening picture of official efforts to protect people from the coronavirus epidemic -- poor migrants who came from various parts of the country after suffering many hardships are subjected to this heart-wrenching arrangement for social distancing and quarantine by Nitish Kumar”, he said.
After Kishor raised this issue, JD-U spokesperson Nikhil Mandal attacked him and advised him not to do “low level politics”.
But the JD-U leader seems to have forgotten that his own party leaders and ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders on Sunday criticised Kejriwal for the sudden exodus of migrant workers from Delhi to Bihar, posing a serious challenge to the state. “This is a kind of coronavirus attack on Bihar” said senior JD-U leader K C Tyagi.
Tejashwi further tweeted that the “helpline numbers given by the Bihar government are either not getting connected or not responding. Poor & daily wage labourers are not provided with food & ration. Doctors and nurses aren’t getting PPE, N95 masks & are threatened to either fall in line or face action. They are forced to make their own videos and circulate it.”
The RJD leader accused the Bihar government of desperately trying to save its skin by headline management. Testing is abysmally low due to unavailability of testing kits and patients are dying even before test results come out, he said, adding that the government is only bothered about enforcing the lockdown as if that is the only available cure.
“We, as a responsible Opposition, have offered all possible support to the Bihar government. We have been apprising the government and administration of problems, suggesting remedial measures but these go largely unheard. With such opacity and laxity, the state government can’t fight this epidemic. I once again reiterate my unconditional support to CM Nitish Kumar in this fight against the epidemic and request him to put public health before everything ....It has to be fought collectively and it’s going to be a long, long fight. Don’t play with the lives of our fellow citizens,” he said.
According to an estimate by government officials, more than two lakh migrant workers have arrived in Bihar in the past four to five days, thousands by trains last week, and many by walking for 200-500 km.
Meanwhile, the Bihar Disaster Management Department has decided to arrange 14 days of quarantine for all those coming from outside the state, including migrant workers, to minimise the chance of community transmission of the virus.
Till date, Bihar has reported 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including one death. Dr. Pradeep Das, the Director of Patna-based Rajendra Memorial Research Institute, where COVID-19 tests are being done in Bihar, confirmed the same.