New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is “poorly handling” the migrant crisis, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal is leading from the front in Covid-19 fight and Mamata Banerjee is mismanaging the coronavirus crisis in West Bengal — these are some of the issues raised by respective state BJP chiefs and leaders before party president J.P. Nadda via video conferences.
Nadda held the video conferences on 3 May and 4 May. In the last one month, Nadda has reached out to various sections of the society through more than 100 video conferences.
He has spoken to state BJP leaders, doctors, lawyers, industry representatives, among others, to take their inputs and also receive feedback about how the Modi government is tackling the Covid-19 crisis.
“Major issues such as implementation challenges of transporting migrant workers to their home states came up. A few states complained that there is lack of coordination between state governments and that sometimes the Centre’s directives (on various issues) don’t reach at the district magistrate level on time,” BJP spokesperson Gopal Agarwal told ThePrint.
“Our job is to share this feedback with the Centre for better policy-making. In a few districts, it came to the party’s notice that the district magistrates are reluctant to distribute grains without ration cards. It was then communicated to the Centre and instruction was issued to distribute ration without cards also,” he told ThePrint.
Bihar and Odisha
During the video chat with Nadda on 3 May, the Bihar BJP unit said Nitish’s handling of the migrant crisis is being severely debated in the state. Nitish’s JD(U) is a BJP ally in the state.
“Lots of migrant workers called us to complain about their helplessness. They want to return, but helpline numbers given by the state government are not working, they are also unable to register themselves in the app (launched by Bihar government),” said a BJP functionary, who didn’t want to be named.
The state government had launched a mobile application in early April to financially support migrants stuck outside the state due to Covid-19 lockdown. Migrants need to register themselves in the app and fill up some details to get Rs 1,000 from the government.
“Loss of income and food are major issues. People are praising Modi but they’re disappointed with the state government. Although the chief minister has announced that the state will bear the cost of train fare and even transferred Rs 1,000 into the bank accounts of 17 lakh migrant workers, still there are a few issues that need to be handled proactively,” the functionary added.
The migrant crisis also figured during the video conference on 4 May between Nadda and BJP’s national office-bearers.
BJP national secretary in-charge of Odisha Satya Kumar raised the issue of poor handling of the migrant crisis by the state government.
“… the problem in Odisha is, there are 30 lakh migrant workers outside the state. This is a large number and the state government is not much interested in bringing them back. They don’t want migrants to return, there is the issue of providing them safe quarantine, food, shelter and employment,” Kumar added.
Need to counter Kejriwal
A Delhi BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named, told Nadda the state unit isn’t doing anything to counter Kejriwal’s narrative that his government is leading the fight against Covid-19 in the national capital.
“Kejriwal is fighting from the front. He is setting the narrative of how he saved lives in the capital by doing more testing and by strengthening health infrastructure in the initial stages. There is a need to reverse this narrative,” the leader added.
“We don’t want to do politics at this time but it is fact that due to the Centre’s aggressive and early approach (against coronavirus), the government could minimise the casualty in the country. But a narrative is spreading that Kejriwal has done a great job in protecting Delhi residents by aggressive testing. Kejriwal is saying he is distributing 1 crore meals. But then why are people complaining about food and shelters? We should be more aggressive in our communication,” he said.
Issues in Bengal
BJP’s West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh during the meeting on 3 May raised the issue of less testing, alleged suppressing of Covid-19 data by Mamata government and rampant corruption in distributing food grains.
“We briefed Naddaji that we are vigilant and providing help to the needy by distributing food, masks, but the state government is testing less people. There is a lack of transparency in cases that are Covid-19 positive. She (Mamata) is not ready to bring migrants from other states and her only job is to harass BJP workers,” Ghosh told ThePrint.
According to Ghosh, Nadda appreciated the fact that BJP workers had held a sit-in at homes on 26 April to protest against alleged Covid-19 mismanagement by the state government.
Speaking about the alleged mismanagement, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha told ThePrint: “Due to Mamata’s lack of transparency, all senior doctors are resting at home and not treating patients. There is huge corruption going on in ration distribution. Nobody knows where the ration is going.
“We have demanded an investigation and resignation of the civil supply minister. We briefed party president about both the issues (during the meeting on 3 May),” Sinha said.
Jharkhand BJP has briefed the party president about the infighting between the ruling alliance partners, the JMM and Congress, over postings and transfers of government officers.
“This is not the time to do politics. We are running several community kitchens, serving food to lakhs of people every day. The party high command takes feedback of our community work every day. We have been told to felicitate corona warriors like health workers, nurses, doctors, police by sending them cards, flowers. But the state government is engaged in mud-slinging, criticising the Centre every hour,” BJP Jharkhand chief Deepak Prakash told ThePrint.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren has been regularly criticising the Centre for the delay in allowing transportation of students stuck in Kota to the state.
Sources in the Jharkhand BJP told ThePrint Nadda has asked the state unit to do constructive criticism in this critical time.
Naddaji asked us to not just criticise, but also offer solutions, said a source, adding that the Modi government has also asked them to reach out to the masses to share information about the Centre’s work, and their early and aggressive approach in handling the pandemic.
Punjab and Uttar Pradesh
Punjab BJP president Arun Sood raised the issue of the state government’s “callous approach” in purchasing wheat from mandis during the meeting on 3 May.
At the video conference on 4 May, BJP national secretary in-charge of Punjab Tarun Chugh told Nadda that the state government’s introduction of the token system for wheat procurement is creating hurdles.
“The state government has introduced a token system to stagger the process (of wheat procurement). There are 4,000 purchasing centres and wheat is lying in open areas. Tokens are issued for a day. It is creating hurdles in the purchase. The state is not distributing enough grains to the needy,” said Chugh.
Uttar Pradesh BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh told Nadda that the Yogi government has done a “commendable work” in containing the spread of the virus, despite the state having such a large population.
Singh told ThePrint he also mentioned that the party unit is reaching out to elderly BJP workers and asking them about their well-being.