M K Tayal: Once upon a time there was a king. He was a very promising king, literally. He wore the right clothes, always spic and span. He trimmed his beard fine. And hope, he ‘showed off’ too. He often talked of the poor and the downtrodden and how he felt from the bottom of his heart for the workers of the magnificent, ‘sone ki chidiya’ land. This point ought to be noted at the start. He had a dedicated coterie that ensured the king was always seen right.
And an ever-ready army of supporters who shot down anyone who tried to raise his or her head. The king’s first task was to ensure that there was no opposition in his land. Slowly and systematically, the king choked any voice that even sounded like dissent. A well-oiled public relations machinery was perhaps the best tool in his pocket, and the narads danced to the piper’s tune. And then he invaded the drawing rooms of his people. God or bad, he could not be ignored.
The hoi polloi was not doing that great but made to feel it was fantastic. Then one day, the world was plagued. The king slept soundly. He could have stopped the outbreak from entering his land, but let it enter out of ignorance or callousness or inefficiency or over smartness… And one fine day he awoke, put on his best make up and shut that land down at 8 pm. Just like that. No questions asked. It is good to be the king.
He played ‘Statue’. The nation froze.But while rich were flown from faraway lands, no ‘sick’ could go to a hospital or leave his place of work. The poor, for whom his heart bled, were abandoned. Without money or jobs, hungry and homeless, they were forced to come out. Fighting for survival, hundreds and thousands started leaving glitzy cities and commenced a journey impossible to fathom. In the hope for a loaf of bread, walking back home for thousands of kilometers was a nightmare that had to be undertaken. Many died before they could finish the journey. Still people loved him and those who did not were aliens.
The king in slumber overworked overtime. He came and threw open a huge money chest with gaudy promises of revival. This largesse was the biggest ever. And so was the migration in the land. Long live the land and the people and perhaps, the king. And the story goes on… Narendra Modi is a good spirited prime minister. He thinks about the people. He announced Rs 20 lakh crore to revive the industry. Generally, he has a ‘year’ to the ground. But this ‘hear’ he missed. How come when his so clued up and is on top of things, working overtime all the time, not taking a single day holiday, he not only seen the writing on the wall, but missed the complete wall itself or the town or the country.
I am sure, Modi is not aware that migrant workers are leaving their work places. Or many have died. He has not been listening to the news. Of course, I don’t expect the busy PM to read a ‘bloody’ headline. Not to question his education credentials, but being the prime minister one can understand how many ‘bloody’ headlines can he read in his limited time. And I even suspect that the intelligence agencies, his cabinet colleagues or his staff are not keeping him in the loop about the ‘migrant’ workers.
Otherwise, how could it happen that the Prime Minister, who was a chaiwala, not think about these workers who are being forced to leave their work places. To call them migrant is nothing less than an insult. The Prime Minister is himself a migrant worker in that sense, hailing from Gujarat he is working as Pradhan sewak in New Delhi.So not all migrant workers are leaving, but only those who have lost their jobs, where factory owners, contractors or bungalow owners have abounded them or they have lost their only means of earning their bread, respectfully. If prime minister’s job would have been lost, would he have been staying at the ultra-elite Race Course road, nay Jan Lok Marg.
The trains that were pressed into service, albeit a tad late, were able to carry only 14 lakh migrant workers out of 13-14 crore. But this could have been the initiative of our Railway Minister Piyush Goyal. The PM could not have been aware. Otherwise, he would make an appeal to the workers to stay where they were and ensured that they get their salaries and are disbursed in time by a PM’s order or rule of law. The PM could have ensured that the charity unleashed by the Central Government reach the rickshaw pullers, the dihadi workers… ‘
The government could have catered food had the PM known. FM Nirmala Sitharaman provided some food grains to 8 or 80 crore people. Who has seen the grains being distributed? It is besides the point. In any case, these workers neither vote in the cities nor in their villages. This too is besides the point. To lockdown, it was an autonomous decision. To lift it up, the ball has been passed to the states. Too many besides the point, spoil the point. But I am sure the PM even today doesn’t know about the workers leaving otherwise, he would have said something. After 50 days, the PM is still playing Statue and only the migrant workers are not playing. Long live the land and the people and Modi. And the game goes on…