Leaders of several opposition parties are set to discuss the plight of migrant workers trying to reach home on foot amid the nationwide lockdown on Friday.
A meeting convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday afternoon will see the leaders of around 20 opposition parties come together on a common platform through video-conferencing. They will discuss the joint opposition strategy moving forward on the migrants issue. Besides, they will also deliberate on the dilution of labour laws in some states.
Sources said around 17 opposition parties, including Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, have agreed to take part in the meeting, which will also focus on the problems being faced by farmers. West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee has said she will attend the meeting. Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury has also confirmed his participation.
The meeting will be held at 3 pm, they said, adding the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have not confirmed their participation.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will not take part in the meeting, said party leader Sanjay Singh.
The leaders are also likely to discuss the issue of economic package and raise objections to no direct cash being given to crores of migrants suffering due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, added the sources. They said that after losing their livelihood in the wake of the economy coming to a standstill due to the complete lockdown, the migrant workers are left with no money or food and the government has done nothing for them.
The Congress chief personally called several opposition leaders and sought their cooperation in chalking out a joint strategy to address the issue of the stranded migrants, the sources said.
Yechury is expected to urge the opposition parties to jointly raise the demand of immediate implementation of direct cash transfer of Rs 7,500 to migrants and poor people by the Centre. He will also seek distribution of 10 kg of foodgrains per month for free to the needy for the next six months, besides free transportation for all migrant workers to their native places.
The left parties, including the Communist Party of India (CPI), will also demand a reversal of the unilateral decision to dilute labour laws by some states.
Yechury is likely to raise the issue of procurement of the "rabi" crops and minor forest produce at the minimum support price (MSP), besides provision of seeds, fertilisers and other inputs to the farmers preparing for the "kharif" crops.
He will also seek stopping of the communal profiling, targeting and arrest of peaceful protesters, besides demanding the release of all political prisoners, particularly those arrested in Jammu and Kashmir and jailed inside and outside the Union Territory.
CPI leader D Raja said his party will participate in the opposition meet and raise the issue of some states diluting labour laws.
Rendered jobless due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, which came into effect on March 25, and desperate to get home, thousands of migrant workers across the country are undertaking long and arduous journeys to their native places on foot, bicycles or packed into trucks. Many of them have been killed in accidents.
The Opposition has criticised the government over its handling of the migrant crisis.
(With inputs from PTI)