Congress MLA Amarinder Singh Raja, the political advisor to Punjab CM Amarinder Singh was embroiled in a controversy on Monday after his video from Bhatinda station surfaced. The video accessed by Republic TV shows Raja allegedly distributing pamphlets to the migrant workers leaving Bhatinda for Muzaffarpur. The Punjab MLA along with other leaders are heard telling the workers that the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi and Amarinder Singh paid for their tickets. There was also an announcement made in this regard at the railway station. Commenting on this video, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat observed that the Congress party was "dejected, intolerant, insecure and opportunistic".
Punjab MLA Amarinder Singh Raja reportedly told the migrant workers, "Your ticket fare has been paid by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Congress party, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, (state Congress chief) Sunil Jakhar are sending you. Everything is written in this pamphlet, you can read it at leisure on your journey."
After the Ministry of Railways permitted the inter-state movement of stranded migrant workers by trains, there was a lack of clarity pertaining to the payment of the fare. Congress president Sonia Gandhi asked the Pradesh Congress Committees to pay for the train tickets of the needy migrant workers. Subsequently, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh announced that his government would pay for their travel considering the suggestion of the Congress president. However, Railways Ministry sources revealed that the migrant workers were never directed to shell out money with the Centre and state governments paying 85% and 15% of the train ticket cost respectively.
Currently, there are 1,823 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Punjab out of which 166 patients have recovered while 31 casualties have been reported. In the 5th virtual meeting with PM Modi, the Punjab CM backed the extension of the nationwide lockdown with a strategy to secure the livelihood of people. Maintaining that the lockdown exit strategy should focus on "fiscal and economic empowerment" of the states, he urged for the state governments to be given greater flexibility in micro-planning.
Chief Minister @capt_amarinder Singh has pitched for extension of #lockdown, but with a carefully crafted strategy, backed by fiscal and economic empowerment of states, to save lives and secure livehood.....(1)— CMO Punjab (@CMOPb) May 11, 2020