Lok Janshakti Party chief Chirag Paswan on Wednesday said there is perceptible anger among migrant workers from Bihar who are stuck in far-off places and the Nitish Kumar government must bring them back at the earliest, lest it may lose their trust.
Paswan accused the Bihar government of dragging its feet on the issue of migrants while states like the BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh have started bringing its people back by bus-loads.
He further said with the Centre running special trains, there was no scope for "excuses" in the name of adherence to the lockdown rules.
"I speak as a responsible ally (of the ruling NDA in Bihar)...I can see a lot of anger among migrant workers when I watch their ordeal in videos posted on social media. I fear that they might lose confidence in our government," Paswan told a news channel. The LJP chief, who took over the reins of the party from his father and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan less than a year ago, had a couple of days ago alleged that the state government's response to the migrant crisis was "delayed" and "inadequate" and cryptically remarked that his party "supported" the ruling dispensation in Bihar but was "not its part".
After the election to Lok Sabha of Pashupati Kumar Paras, who was the state minister for fisheries, the LJP has been left without any representation in the state government.
The LJP chief's regular attacks are causing embarrassment for the NDA government in the state, which is scheduled to see elections by the end of this year.
Paswan had earlier in the day shot off a fresh letter to Nitish Kumar drawing his attention towards the plight of migrants from Jamui parliamentary constituency who were spread across almost every state in the country.
The LJP chief said he expected the state government to "ascertain the number of migrants still stuck elsewhere as early as possible" and thereafter get down to bringing them back by trains or other modes of transport.
"No action was taken in Bihar, where the government kept pleading adherence to the lockdown, while the Uttar Pradesh government had begun the process of bringing migrants back by buses. Much time has been lost, there must not be any more dithering," he added.
Thanking Railway Minister Piyush Goyal for "promising that as many trains as needed will be run for Bihar", Paswan pointed out "now it is the job of the state government to find out as quickly as possible how many of its natives were stuck in which places and place requisitions for bringing them back".
He reiterated that identification of the states migrants was getting hindered by "a tedious process of registration, which required people to get their details entered online, without realising that they were hardly computer literate".
Highlighting the plight of migrants in states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, the LJP chief said "they are living in miserable conditions as 10 people are cramped in a tiny room. Social distancing is simply not possible under such circumstances. The Bihar government must come to their rescue".
Paswan, who had rankled JD(U) leaders a couple of months ago when he repeatedly highlighted its failures during his party's state-wide "Bihar First Bihari
First" tour, which had to be curtailed because of the coronavirus outbreak, also said the state government must ensure that once the migrants were back "blame does not fall on them for worsening of the pandemic".
"In my letter to the chief minister, I have called for 'saghan parikshan' (intensive medical tests) of all migrants. Thermal screening, which is taking place, is not enough. The state government must ramp up its medical infrastructure to meet the challenge," he added.
The LJP chief also said Kumar had claimed that soon after becoming the chief minister 15 years ago, "he would be bringing the state's economy back on track so that those forced to migrate in search of livelihood could return".
"The current crisis throws an opportunity for Nitish Kumar. There are lessons to draw from the adjoining Uttar Pradesh where Yogi Adityanath has been doing a fabulous job by not only taking the lead in bringing the migrants back but also rehabilitating them economically," Paswan added.
There was no immediate reaction from other NDA constituents on the charge.