Arvind Kejriwal’s rebuttal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim on migrants sparked off a furious Twitter exchange between him and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday evening, which led the Delhi Chief Minister to call his UP counterpart a “harsh and cruel ruler”. Yogi Adityanath had called him a liar, alleging that he deliberately pushed the migrants out of Delhi.
Mr Kejriwal had said PM Modi’s statement in parliament that Delhi and Maharashtra contributed to the spread of Covid by enabling the migrant labourers to go home after lockdown was declared in 2020, was a “blatant lie”.
“This statement of Prime Minister is a blatant lie. The country hopes that the Prime Minister will be sensitive to those who have suffered the pain of the Corona period, those who have lost their loved ones. It does not suit the Prime Minister to do politics on the sufferings of the people,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
His party also tweeted to say the Prime Minister’s statement was “false”.
PM Modi gave an absolutely FALSE statement on #MigrantCrisis during the ill-planned lockdown.
Country expected him to be sensitive to people’s suffering but he’s busy doing dirty politics.
SHAMELESS POLITICS BY THE PRIME MINISTER! pic.twitter.com/Dlx43RmTrX
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) February 7, 2022
Yogi Adityanath took up the issue later in the evening.
“Today’s statement of Arvind Kejriwal about the respected Prime Minister is highly condemnable. Arvind Kejriwal should apologize to the entire nation,” he tweeted, quoting a couplet from Goswami Tulsidas, the author of “Ramcharitmanas”, to elucidate his point.
“Kejriwal has a knack of telling lies. When the whole country was battling a global pandemic like Corona under the leadership of the respected Prime Minister, Kejriwal showed the migrant laborers the way out of Delhi,” he said in the next of a series of tweets.
He then went on to accuse the Delhi Chief Minister of “cutting electricity and water “of migrant labourers and forcing them to leave the city.
“The electricity-water connection was cut and the sleeping people were picked up and sent to the UP border by buses. Announcement was made that in Anand Vihar, buses will be available for UP-Bihar. The UP government arranged buses for the migrant laborers and brought them back safely,” the tweet read.
In the final one, he addressed the Delhi Chief Minister directly. “Listen Kejriwal, You forced the workers of UP to leave Delhi when the entire humanity was groaning due to the pain of Corona. Your government did an undemocratic and inhuman act like leaving even small children and women helpless on the UP border in the middle of the night. Call you a traitor or…” the post read.
जब पूरी मानवता कोरोना की पीड़ा से कराह रही थी, उस समय आपने यूपी के कामगारों को दिल्ली छोड़ने पर विवश किया।
छोटे बच्चों व महिलाओं तक को आधी रात में यूपी की सीमा पर असहाय छोड़ने जैसा अलोकतांत्रिक व अमानवीय कार्य आपकी सरकार ने किया।
आपको मानवताद्रोही कहें या…
— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) February 7, 2022
Mr Kejriwal then hit back. “Listen Yogi, You just let it be. Just like the dead bodies of the people of UP were flowing in the river and you were giving advertisements of your false applause in Times magazine by spending crores of rupees. I have never seen such a harsh and cruel ruler like you”.
आप तो रहने ही दो। जिस तरह UP के लोगों की लाशें नदी में बह रहीं थीं और आप करोड़ों रुपए खर्च करके Times मैगज़ीन में अपनी झूठी वाह वाही के विज्ञापन दे रहे थे। आप जैसा निर्दयी और क्रूर शासक मैंने नहीं देखा। https://t.co/qxcs2w60lG
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) February 7, 2022
The Prime Minister’s comments in parliament had drawn outraged reactions from Maharashtra as well.
Mumbai Congress chief Bhai Jagtap questioned how the virus reached the country. “Rahul Gandhi had already said that international flights should be stopped so that cases do not increase, but it was not done,” he said.
He also pointed out that the central government had a role in the matter. “We sent people by 106 trains. When the government said they are waiving 75 per cent of the fare, we did the work of paying the remaining 25 per cent and arranged for their food and drink,” he said.
Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi asserted that if looking after migrant labourers, offering them food and shelter was “wrong in the eyes of the PM, then will make this mistake 100 times over .. for humanity”.
The plight of the migrant labourers after the declaration of the lockdown had set off a huge political furore, with the opposition blaming the Centre of making an announcement with any thought of the fallout.
PM Modi accused the opposition of “pushing” migrant labourers into “difficulties”. He specifically mentioned the governments of Delhi and Maharashtra, saying “During the first wave… the Congress at the Mumbai railway station gave tickets to labourers to go and spread coronavirus”.
“In Delhi, the government used mics on jeeps in slums to go home, arranged buses,” he then said, adding, in Uttar Pradesh and other states “where corona didn’t have this intensity, there also coronavirus spread due to this”.