The External Affairs Ministry on Thursday said it does not discriminate between states, and the Centre's Vande Bharat mission is for all stranded Indians. MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava made the comments in response to West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee's accusation that the Centre was discriminating between states.
MEA does not discriminate between states. GOI’s Vande Bharat Mission is for all stranded Indians, including those from West Bengal. Over 3700 of them have registered for repatriation from different parts of the world. (1/2)@MoCA_GoI @HomeSecretaryWB https://t.co/CEzU0rCAnM— Anurag Srivastava (@MEAIndia) May 14, 2020
Chatterjee had questioned India's largest repatriation exercise, alleging discrimination by Centre against the people of West Bengal. "Is the MEA asking us to believe that there are enough people to come from Georgia to Gujarat but none want to come to Kolkata? Also, there are enough people to come back to Bihar from Kyrgyzstan but not enough to bring back to Bengal? Stop this injustice!" Chatterjee wrote on Twitter.
Tagging the tweet by Chatterjee, Srivastava responded, "Will gladly facilitate flights to Kolkata if the state government will confirm arrangements to receive and quarantine. Will also help in return of West Bengal residents through land borders with neighbours. We hope to receive an early response on the matter."
Later, the Bengal minister replied to the MEA spokesperson's tweet, "Bengal will welcome its people from any part of the world with open arms and since Honourable Prime Minister (Modi) is talking about 'vocal for local', why can't we have our poor migrant brothers and sisters reach their homes in these special flights instead of walking barefoot for thousands of km?"
From May 7, India began the phased repatriation of its citizens stranded abroad, due to various lockdown restrictions, under the Vande Bharat Mission. West Bengal government and Centre have been at loggerheads over several issues pertaining to the governance and other policy matters.
Locking horns with the West Bengal government over special 'Shramik' trains, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, on Thursday, stated that the state government has allowed only 7 special trains till date. He added that while Bengal needs to run 105 trains daily, the state government is planning to run 105 trains in the next 30 days.
(With agency inputs)