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Congress calls opposition meet on migrants' plight, changes in labour laws

So far, 17 parties have agreed to take part in the meeting via video-conferencing, but the SP and the BSP are yet to confirm their attendance.

Indian National Congress | Coronavirus | Lockdown

Aditi Phadnis  |  New Delhi 

lockdown, coronavirus, police, crowd, masks, social distancing, migrants, workers, poor
Lockdown 4.0: Migrants at a government school to get screened before boarding buses for the Anand Vihar Railway Station to leave for their native places, in east Delhi. Photo: PTI

The Congress has called a meeting of like-minded on Friday to discuss the plight of migrants and the changes in brought in by some states, sources said. Interim Congress President will chair the meeting. This is among several initiatives taken by Gandhi since the Covid-19 crisis broke out.

So far, 17 parties have agreed to take part in the meeting via video-conferencing, but the SP and the BSP are yet to confirm their attendance.

Although the Congress had pledged support to the government in the face of the unprecedented health crisis the country was facing, a few weeks ago, the party president set up a panel to critique the government’s handling of the crisis. Since then, the Congress has been scathing in its criticism of the stimulus, the handling of the migrants issue, and the fine print of the sectoral sops announced to deal with joblessness and livelihood.

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The have attacked the Centre for allowing BJP-ruled states of UP, MP, and to amend to lure foreign investors and “to strip of their basic rights”.

These changes include exempting industrial units from labour welfare statutes, allowing them to take steps such as increasing daily and weekly working hours, and depriving of their right to move court.

But whether this will be a unified Opposition confronting the government is the big question. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s antipathy to the Congress is well known. Odisha Chief Minister has sided with the Opposition only on state issues, largely supporting the BJP on matters. Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao has supported, and even tried to craft, a non-Congress Opposition.

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The last meeting called by at the beginning of the year was not attended by the TMC and BSP. The TMC’s distrust of the Congress’s affection and proximity to the Left parties was one reason. The initiative was taken around the controversy over the Register of Citizens and even the Shiv Sena, which is an ally of the Congress in Maharashtra, and the did not turn up.

Congress sources say the meeting is on the issue of migrants that concerns everyone. Unity on this issue could lead to forging a broader political unity.

First Published: Wed, May 20 2020. 01:26 IST