Yogi Adityanath’s Popularity Soars Among Bihar Migrants Amid COVID-19

Patna: While it is fairly well-known that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar privately blames his Uttar Pradesh counterpart for a wave of violations during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, it seems that Yogi Adityanath has found favour among migrants from Bihar, especially those coming via road, crisscrossing various districts of the state.

A group of migrant workers that NDTV spoke to in Gopalganj district, still 50 km away from their home in the neighbouring district of Chapra, said they were treated very well in Uttar Pradesh compared to their experience so far in Bihar.

“In UP, we were helped by cops in every police station who arranged for transportation. Although it required a lot of coordination, they gave us food, biscuits and water. But In our home state, forget about buses, no policeman is even willing to talk to us and everyone shoos us away,” one migrant worker said.

And this was not an isolated case. At the Bihar-UP border, more than 150 people in an open lorry agreed that the Yogi Adityanath administration took better care of them.

“Despite all the hardship, the fact remains that we were fed properly in Uttar Pradesh although we are not very sure about our own home state,” one worker said.

Some complained that despite the Bihar government’s claim of depositing Rs 1,000 in bank accounts of each of the over 19 lakh migrants living outside state, they have not received anything.

Thousands were also forced to look for their own transportation as the procedure to apply for a return journey by train is so complicated.

Several BJP MLAs in Bihar say Yogi Adityanath’s popularity was helped by his move to help the state’s migrants who were coming from Delhi by dropping them to the Bihar border.

They said he followed this up by sending buses to bring back stranded students in Rajasthan’s Kota and made sure that those from Bihar are also picked up and brought dropped at the state border – a move which upset Nitish Kumar.

Lakhs of workers have large towns and cities across India after losing their jobs and left stranded without food or shelter after the central government announced a sudden lockdown in March – two months after the coronavirus pandemic reached India.

Forced to walk for days, dozens of migrant workers have fallen sick or died on their way home, either from fatigue or in accidents, underscoring the extreme risks the poor have been exposed to.

Many others have stayed put, unable to return to their native villages as trains and buses have largely ground to a halt.

According to government data, over 3 lakh migrants have returned to Bihar in the past 10 days. Over 2.25 lakh people are quarantined in over 4,676 block-level quarantine centres and over 11,000 in 680 panchayat-level quarantine centres.

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