The buses hired by Congress to ferry migrants home in Uttar Pradesh returned after three days of political slugfest between the party and the UP government, with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra saying the idea behind the move was to help migrants.
The Congress accused the BJP and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath of playing "shameless and cheap politics" over the issue, even as Priyanka Gandhi made a last-ditch appeal to the CM to allow them to ply buses to ferry migrants.
Noting that this was not the time to play politics, she also appealed to various political parties to shed their ideology and help people, especially migrants walking down the roads in the summer heat.
The buses parked along the UP border returned late in the evening after the Adityanath government imposed certain conditions and did not grant permission to them, sources said.
Priyanka Gandhi in a 10-minute video message told Adityanath that the 1,000-odd buses made available by the party would remain where they are till 4 PM Wednesday and that he should allow them to ferry migrants to their homes safely.
"I want to urge the chief minister that our buses will remain parked where they are at the borders (with Rajasthan) till 4 PM and it will be 24 hours since they were made available there.
"If you want to use them, kindly allow permission to us to ply them. If you want, you can paste your posters or banners on them, but kindly allow them to ply so that the migrants can be ferried in them and they reach home safely," she said.
She claimed that till the time the issue remained embroiled in politics, at least 92,000 migrants who were walking on roads in this heat, without water and food, could have reached home safely.
"This is not the time to play politics. I urge every political party to set aside their political ideology and help people instead," she said.
In her message to migrant labourers, she said Congress workers and leaders stand by their side in this time of a crisis and will help them in every possible manner and provide them food too.
She claimed that service towards migrants by plying these buses was their aim and not politics.
Earlier during the day, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi alleged the "Ajay Bisht government" was creating hurdles in the Congress help reaching migrants.
He accused the UP government of being insensitive towards the plight of migrants despite such deprivation and devastation among them.
"I condemn this and the nation condemns this. It is shameless politics amidst crisis and devastation," he said.
The way the UP government "is not only doing nothing but not even allowing anyone to do something" for migrants leaves one astounded, he alleged.
"Will they stand up and explain to the nation? For last six days, especially the last two days and even as we speak, about 500 buses are standing at UP borders. How is it that you will not allow to ferry migrants of UP and Bihar. This is the cheapest form of politics," he said.
Another Congress spokesperson Supriya Srinate at a press conference said the BJP government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh have been exposed, and asked what they will say to thousands of migrants who were still walking on roads.
"People will ask you this answer. But a day will come when you will have to answer to the people,"she said, as she condemned the arrest of UPCC chief Ajay Kumar Lallu.
Lallu was arrested in Agra after he sat on a dharna demanding permission to run the buses.
Congress Legislature Party leader in UP Aradhna Mishra said the BJP has been playing politics on the issue and has "betrayed" the people of the state.
"This government is full of arrogance and does not want this attempt to help migrants succeed," she said, adding that the BJP stands exposed in the 'janta ki adalat'.
Thousands of migrants are walking to their homes amid the lockdown and the Congress party in UP and the UP government are locked in a tussle over plying of buses provided by the Congress for ferrying migrants home.
The Congress had lined up buses along the UP border and was seeking permission to ply them. The Yogi government allowed the plying of buses but put some conditions and also accused the Congress of giving false information about the buses, some of which have turned out to be two-wheelers and three-wheelers.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)