West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday denied having called 'Shramik Special' trains, ferrying migrant labourers back home, "Corona Express" as alleged by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, insisting it was the people who gave that name to crammed-to-capacity trains.
Her comments came a day after Shah, addressing a virtual rally for West Bengal, accused Banerjee of "insulting" migrant workers returning to the state on Shramik Special trains by calling the trains 'Corona Express', and asserted that migrant workers will ensure the "exit" of her government in the 2021 assembly polls.
"More than 11 lakh migrants have returned to Bengal. I never called the migrant special trains 'Corona Express'. It was the common people who gave them that name," she said.
Banerjee questioned why the government announced the lockdown without thinking about its consequences on migrants. "Before announcing the lockdown, the Centre should have arranged special trains for migrants so they could have reached their home before the lockdown. Because of the unplanned lockdown, lakhs of migrants suffered a lot for three months. Why they (Centre) took so much time to respond to migrants' problems?” she asked.
Banerjee said the Centre hurriedly organised special trains after reports of migrants workers walking back home emerged, and then "dumped them inside trains without maintaining social distancing and without providing them adequate food and water".
"No migrants wanted to leave Bengal because we have taken care of them. Why did lakhs of migrants face severe problem in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chennai?” she asked.