NEW DELHI: Soon after the Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary Avneesh Kumar Avasthi asked Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to handover the 1,000 buses to Ghaziabad and Noida District Magistrate by 12 noon, the Congress said that it will handover the buses by 5 p.m. and many of the buses were stationed on the Uttar Pradesh-Rajasthan border and in Delhi.
In a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary, Priyanka Gandhi's personal aide Sandeep Singh said, "We received your letter at 11.05 a.m. to handover the buses at Ghaziabad and Noida. As a number of buses are in Delhi and Rajasthan, the process of taking permits is going on. So, will need some more time to get the permit for these buses."
"As per your request the buses will be handed over to the state government by 5 p.m.," he said. He also asked the state government to prepare the list of passengers and the routes for these buses so that there is no more delay in starting the services. He also said that it will be a historic step by the Uttar Pradesh government and the Congress to help the stranded migrant workers on humanitarian grounds and by keeping the political ambitions at bay.
The politics over providing 1,000 buses to the Uttar Pradesh government to transport the stranded migrant workers once again heated up on Tuesday morning as the state government asked Priyanka Gandhi, who is also the in-charge for the eastern Uttar Pradesh to send 500 buses each to Ghazaibad and Noida by 12 noon.
The development came soon after Awasthi in a letter to Priyanka Gandhi's aide said, "As you don't want to send the buses to Lucknow, and want to handover the buses at Ghaziabad or Noida borders. So please handover 500 buses to the Ghaziabad District Magistrate by 12 noon."
He also said that the Ghaziabad District Magistrate has been apprised of the development and he will receive those buses which will be used for transporting the stranded migrant workers.
Awasthi further said that the buses needed to be sent to the Ghazaiabd's Kaushambi and Sahibabad bus depots. The Additional Chief Secretary further said that the remaining 500 buses need to be sent to the Gautam Buddha Nagar District Magistrate near the Expo mart in Noida. He said the administration will check the fitness, permits and other documents of the buses and then use it immediately.
Earlier in the day, the Congress had brought the buses at the state's border in Agra's Nagla point. However, after the Additional Chief Secretary's directions to bring the buses to Noida and Ghaziabad, the Congress alleged that the buses were not being allowed to move from Agra by the local administration.
A senior Congress functionary said that when 500 buses have reached Uttar Pradesh borders then the local administration is saying that they do not have any information regarding the same. "They are not allowing the buses to go further. On the one hand Additional Chief Secretary Avneesh Kumar Awasthi is saying to bring the buses to Ghaziabad and Noida and othe other hand we are not being allowed to enter Uttar Pradesh from Agra. What is happening? Isn't it a dictatorship?" the Congress leader questioned.
On the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday, Priyanka Gandhi after giving list of buses to be plied for the migrant labourers shot a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary alleging that the whole episode emanating from the Chief Minister's office is nothing but politics and lacks intention of helping the poor migrants who are stranded at the state's border. The letter written early Tuesday at 2.10 a.m. alleged that a letter was received from Awasthi's office at 11.40 p.m. on late Monday night which said that all the buses should report in Lucknow by 10 a.m. on Tuesday is nothing but politics.
The letter written by Singh said that "When people are stranded at the UP border in Ghaziabad and Noida or various state entry points to register themselves it is a waste of resources to ask the buses to be sent to Lucknow. Sorry to say there is no intention to help the brothers and sisters who are walking on foot. The government is indulging in pure politics. As the Chief Minister is saying in a TV program that we are asking for a list from three days while your communication was received on Monday at 4.01 p.m."
Earlier on Monday a political row ensued over Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi extending an offer to run 1,000 buses for migrants to Uttar Pradesh and her personal secretary claiming to have given details of the buses and its drivers to the Uttar Pradesh government. The state government had asked for the list of the buses from the Congress.
Singh said, "All details of the 1,000 buses are attached with this e-mail. Out of them, few drivers will be reverified and those details will also be mailed to you in a few hours. I hope you will give permission for those buses to ply as soon as possible."
Making a political point, Singh added that many labourers who are "the backbone of the country" are forced to walk hungry in the summer heat. Singh, however, asserted that the move by the Congress is an effort to play a "positive role".
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh Congress claimed to have submitted the list of 1,000 buses to the Yogi Adityanath government following which the state government sought details of the buses and drivers. On Monday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had slammed the Congress for not submitting the list of buses and playing 'petty politics' on the migrant workers' issue.